Three Drop-Dead Delicious Ways to Celebrate National Burger Day

Tomorrow isn’t a federally declared holiday — but it should be

By Marion Bernstein

Three Drop-Dead Delicious Ways to Celebrate National Burger Day
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27 May 2016

Tomorrow (May 28) is National Burger Day and we're celebrating with ... you guessed it, burgers.

With a little creative inspiration from Travel Channel’s Burger Land host George Motz and his recently released Great American Burger Book, we've grilled up three delectable patties that deviate from the predictable beef-cheese-bun norm.

But before we get into the juicy details, let’s first address how the mighty burger won over hearts and bellies, earning its own national holiday and solidifying its place as America’s premier grilling staple.

According to Motz’ Burger Book, the hamburger’s origins can be traced all the way back to the thirteenth-century Mongol Empire. As legend goes, the Mongols used to pack raw mutton under their saddles, aiming to tenderize the meat as they rode. The Russians then adopted a minced version, added spices and naming it tartare (after the Mongolian people of Central Asia known as Tatars). Over time, raw mutton was replaced with beef, and by the mid-nineteenth century, Germans were known to enjoy cooked beef patties with a side of potatoes and gravy as they awaited U.S.-bound ships departing the Port of Hamburg.

Those German immigrants eventually boarded the boats to America, and thus, the hamburger made its way to the U.S. It wasn’t until around 1900 that the American hamburger could be found between two slices of bread, and now, more than 100 years later, dozens of variations of base, bun and topping abound.

And although we love the occasional lamb, turkey or veggie patty, to quote Motz, “To the burger purist, anything but beef is just a distraction, a gimmick.” So to celebrate this National Burger Day, we’ve taken a page out of Motz’s book, literally, and cooked up three of his favorite regional beef burger variations.


Image via Marion Bernstein

Olive Burger

Whether credit is given to the Greek-owned Olympic Broil in Lansing, or the Kewpee Hotel Hamburgs in Grand Rapids, there’s no denying that the western Michigan-based olive burger boasts a distinctive briny flavor that pairs exceptionally well with creamy mayo.

⅓ pound fresh ground 80/20 chuck
1 onion roll, toasted
1 tablespoon olive oil
¼ cup chopped green olives
Salt and pepper to taste
Green leaf lettuce, beefsteak tomato slice and schmear of mayo to garnish

Oil your heated grill grate to prevent the burger from sticking. Place the ground chuck in a medium bowl. Add salt and pepper and form into a three-inch ball of beef. Place beef on the heated grill and, using a wide spatula, press down hard to create a wide patty. Let the patty cook three to four minutes, then flip. Cook for another three to four minutes. Schmear toasted onion roll with mayo and add lettuce and tomato. Top burger with chopped green olives, and delve into your first bite of briney goodness.


Image via Marion Bernstein

Jucy Lucy

Allegedly, the first man to bite into this cheese stuffed burger immediately exclaimed, “That’s one juicy Lucy!” And thus, a Minnesota legend was born. Rumor has it that the bar’s owner was so excited while writing his new special on the menu board that he incorrectly spelled “Jucy,” and the quirk stuck.

⅓ pound fresh ground 80/20 chuck
1 poppy seed roll, toasted
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 thick slices of sharp cheddar cheese
1 toothpick
Salt and pepper to taste
Beefsteak tomato slice, dill pickle chips, grilled onions and schmear of mayo to garnish

Oil your heated grill grate to prevent the burger from sticking. Place the ground chuck in a medium bowl. Add salt and pepper and form into two beef patties. Place two slices of sharp cheddar cheese inside the center of one patty, pressing down to depress the cheese into the patty. Place the second beef patty on top to cover the cheese center. Pinch the perimeter of the two patties, ensuring you seal the entire perimeter (or else the burger will fall apart on the grill). Place patty on the heated grill (do not press patty down with spatula). Let the patty cook three to four minutes, then flip. Using a toothpick, poke a tiny hole in the center of the burger making sure you only poke down to the cheese layer — do not poke all the way through the burger. This tiny hole allows the steam inside the patty to escape without draining the burger of any precious cheese. If you don’t poke a hole, your burger will explode. Trust me, I learned this the hard way. Cook for another three to four minutes. Schmear toasted poppy seed roll with mayo and add tomato, grilled onions and dill pickle chips. Cut burger in half, bask in melted cheese ooze and enjoy your Jucy Lucy.


Image via Marion Bernstein

Peanut Butter Pickle Burger  

Popularized in Sedalia, Missouri, the peanut butter pickle burger, aka Guberburger, is a surprisingly satisfying combination of texture and flavor. To quote Motz, “Anyone who has eaten Thai food knows that the peanut plays a vital role in the cuisine. Beef satay — grilled beef on skewers accompanied by a peanut dipping sauce — it’s not far from the experience of the Guberburger.”   

⅓ pound fresh ground 80/20 chuck
1 sesame seed roll, toasted
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon creamy peanut butter
Salt and pepper to taste
Dill pickle chips to garnish

Oil your heated grill grate to prevent the burger from sticking. Place the ground chuck in a medium bowl. Add salt and pepper and form into a three-inch ball of beef. Place beef on the heated grill and, using a wide spatula, press down hard to create a wide patty. Let the patty cook three to four minutes, then flip. Cook for another three to four minutes. Schmear toasted sesame seed roll with one tablespoon of creamy peanut butter. Top with pickle chips and congratulate yourself for discovering new and interesting flavor combinations.

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