Not much about the hamburger suggests the sunny shores of the Mediterranean.
Named for Hamburg, Germany, from whence many folk immigrated to America, the hamburger sandwich was first created in 1900 in the United States in by Louis Lassen, owner of Louis’ Lunch in New Haven, Connecticut.
Crude in early iterations, early burgers were just slapped between two slices of bread.
Not real sexy.
Welcome to National Hamburger Month.
The hamburger, an American art form
Make the end of May special by trying something new with your burgers.
Here’s GJE’s take inspired by the Mediterranean diet:
Check the list pages for more information about key ingredients.
- Equal parts ground fresh lamb, fresh pork and beef
- 1 egg
- 1 lb. gorgonzola cheese
- Sweet red Italian onion, some minced, some sliced
- Garlic, minced
- Extra virgin olive olive
- Sea salt
- Fresh cracked black pepper
- Lemon juice, fresh
- Crushed red pepper flakes
- Spinach, basil and/or romaine lettuce, fresh and shredded
- Roma tomatoes, sliced
- In a metal bowl, mix together ground meat, salt, pepper, pepper flakes and paprika to taste and about a teaspoon of olive oil and lemon juice per pound. Set aside.
- In a skillet, heat a couple of tablespoons of olive oil and sauté minced onion, garlic for 3-5 minutes, then set aside. (For an even more intense flavor, leave the onion and garlic raw.)
- Crack the egg in a cup or sauce and scramble with a fork.
- Use your fist to make a dent in the meat, then pour in the egg and work it through the meat very thoroughly.
- Add the sautéed vegetables and work through the meat again.
- Divide meat evenly into balls.
- Use your thumb to make a hole in one of the balls, spoon in gorgonzola, then plug the hole with meat and very gently make your hamburger patty.
- Once you’ve made all your patties, you can either grill or pan fry the burgers to your taste.
Be very careful to let the patties cool a bit before you eat. The cheese inside is very, very hot.
For a change of pace, serve your Mediterranean burgers on crostini instead of plain old hamburger rolls.
Garnish with fresh spinach and basil, sliced onion, mayo and a mild mustard like Grey Poupon® Dijon mustard.
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OFFICIAL BIO: K Truitt is a second-generation, native Floridian born in Jacksonville. Truitt worked in public higher education for 25 years and knows newspaper publishing, printing and graphic design. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Looks different, huh
This is a photo of ground lamb.
Not only is it leaner than ground beef, it’s heavier and even more protein dense. A nice balance to the slightly garlicky flavor of fresh pork, lamb adds a rich, gamey flavor to the fat from the ground beef without increasing the amount of saturated fat very much.
A traditional ingredient in Mediterranean cuisine, lamb is readily available in Greater Jacksonville although it is slightly more expensive than basic ground beef.
Sweet red Italian onions
Harder to find in Greater Jacksonville than they should be, sweet red Italian onions are not your average red onions.
Sweet enough to bite into and eat like an apple, Italian onions have thin, light papers and thin layers than make chopping and slicing easy.
Italian onions also make great, quick and easy fried onions for season other dishes or as healthy snacks on their own.
Gorgonzola is Italian bleu cheese
Nothing enhances the flavor of lamb like Gorgonzola cheese, so named because its blue veins snake through the cheese like the snakes in Medusa’s hair.
A lighter, more crumbly texture makes Gorgonzola less dense and a little more clingy as it melts.
A salty flavor means you’ll use less salt overall and not miss the full feeling you get from eating a traditional cheese burger.