Felipe Fernandez-Armesto writes in Food that James H. Salisbury popularized the Salisbury steak, forerunner to the Hamburger Sandwich, in the late 1880’s. By the 1890’s the Hamburg steak served at Auguste Ermisch’s New York City restaurant evolved into the Hamburger according to Andrew F. Smith in his book Eating History. Barron’s Food Lover’s Companion credits its first appearance in America to the St. Louis Louisiana Purchase Exposition in 1904. Sailors from the seaport town of Hamburg, Germany introduced beef tartare and later cooked the ground meat to create the burger we know today. A recipe for Hamburg Steak appears in the 1903 Settlement Cookbook, also known as The Way To A Man’s Heart.
The Welcome to Our Vermont background for the Vermont Burger is from the CD cover for the latest release of Rick and the Ramblers, a popular western swing band featuring our friend Rick Norcross. The CD is made up entirely of his best Vermont story songs. The Mighty Pickle is the groups traveling RV and was recently featured on the Travel Channel’s “Mega RV Countdown”, you can see it at the bottom of the postcard.
Today there are so many varieties of the iconic American sandwich it’s hard to pick a favorite but here are a few of my favorite toppings:
Pimento cheese and bacon
Avocado and Jalapenos
Dill pickle slice pressed into the center of the ground beef before cooking.
The newest addition is the Best of Vermont Burger featured in the Tampa Bay Times and Janet Keeler’s #CookClub. I substituted cane syrup for maple so I guess that makes it a Cracker-Vermont Burger and I left out the sage in the slaw, using it in the burger instead of poultry seasoning.
Best of Vermont Burger
Green Apple Slaw:
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
2 tablespoons apple schnapps (see note)
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
1 large Granny Smith apple, halved and cored
2 teaspoons minced fresh sage
½ cup thinly sliced red onion
2 pounds ground chuck
1 large shallot, peeled and minced
3 tablespoons pure maple syrup
1 teaspoon poultry seasoning
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
9 slices maple bacon
6 thick slices cheddar cheese
Melted butter for brushing
6 French or good-quality hamburger buns
French’s horseradish mustard (see note)
To make slaw: Whisk together olive oil, lemon juice, maple syrup, apple schnapps and salt in medium bowl. Set aside.
Cut half the cored apple in matchstick strips and place in dressing immediately so that the lemon juice prevents discoloring. Grate the remaining half of the apple into the mix. Add sage and red onion. Refrigerate until ready to use.
To make burgers: Place all burger ingredients in medium bowl and mix them together gently by hand. Do not overwork the burgers or the meat will be tough.
Divide mixture into six equal portions and shape into round patties, about ½ inch thick. With your thumbs, make a slight indentation in the middle to prevent shrinking on the grill. Place in a single layer on a platter and cover loosely with foil or plastic wrap until ready to cook.
Cook bacon and keep warm.
Heat a gas grill to medium-high. Coat the grill grate with nonstick spray and add burger patties. Cook for 5 to 7 minutes and flip. After about 4 minutes, top each burger with slice of cheddar. While cheese is melting, brush split burger buns with melted butter and toast, cut side down.
To assemble burgers: Spread about 1 tablespoon of French’s horseradish mustard on bottom half of toasted bun and top with heaping tablespoon of the slaw. Add cheddar burger, drape with 1 ½ slices of bacon and top with about ¼ cup of slaw. Crown with top half of toasted bun. Serve immediately.
Makes 6 burgers.
Note: You can use apple cider or juice in place of apple schnapps. Also, French’s has a product that mixes horseradish with brown mustard. To make your own, mix 3 parts brown mustard with 1 part prepared horseradish.
Source: Janet K. Keeler, Times food and travel editor
#CookClub recipe No. 21: The Best of Vermont Burger