A Big Food Favorite!
Mr. Big Food has done these burgers on the charcoal grill, but their texture is a bit crumbly. They turn out better on the Flat-Top, or inside in a skillet.
This recipe came originally from a Saveur magazine issue. As is his habit, Mr. Big Food often includes commentary from the original source.
“A Writer’s Beef: If my ideal hamburger were a novel, its author would be Ernest Hemingway. I prefer my burg powerful and pure, brutal yet refined. But when I learned that Papa himself was partial to a maximalist patty—one containing minced carrot and tomato, cheddar cheese, grated apple, capers, India relish, and a brace of spices all mixed directly into the beef—I had to try it out for myself.
Hemingway’s hamburger recipe resurfaced only recently, one of 2,500 pieces of ephemera digitized in 2014 by the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Boston. They typewritten page (see it at Saveur.com/Hemingway) is a testament to the meticulousness with which Hemingway approached food. Titled “Papa’s Favorite Wild West Hamburger” and covered in handwritten marginalia, it’s a literary work in its own right. “Let the meat sit, quietly marinating,” he writes. “Now make four fat, juicy patties with your hands.”
While the document is fascinating, the burger itself is spectacular. Juicy and vibrant, the complex patty stands in stark contrast with Hemingway’s unembellished prose. But like the man’s writing, it’s masterful.”—Helen Rosner, for Saveur 166 (June/July, 2014)
None of this is an exaggeration. More…
“In a Pickle: While constructing Papa’s Favorite Wild West Hamburger … we found ourselves wondering about the origins of India relish. As it turns out, the sweet, slightly pungent condiment was actually the invention of H.J. Heinz in 1889. The original secret recipe, loosely based on traditional Indian relishes, featured a sugared and vinegared mix of pickled cucumbers, green tomatoes, cauliflower, white onions, red bell peppers, celery, and mustard seed, plus cinnamon and allspice. The FDA didn’t appreciate its inspired name, and it took Heinz to court in 1910 for misbranding a product that was not, in actuality, from India. They seized five cases of India relish, but the legal case, along with one against Holland Gin, was dismissed when the court ruled the name was being used generically. For decades the relish—today made by a number of brands, including B&G, with a shorter list of vegetables—has added zip to cookout foods like macaroni salads and hot dogs.”—Mari Ugehara
“Hemingway’s flavor-packed patty … is a baroque take on the burger.”
PAPA’S FAVORITE WILD WEST HAMBURGER (serves 8-12)
Mix together all ingredients, except for oil, buns, and condiments and form into 4 6-oz patties. Heat oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high flame and cook patties to desired doneness, flipping once, 8 to 10 minutes for medium-rare. Alternatively, cook to desired doneness over a charcoal and hardwood fire. Serve on buns with you choice of condiments (preferably “all the way.”)