A bachelor's dinner that can be improved
This is another recipe that is so simple that it scarcely needs repeating. Just make a big hamburger, and fry it. However, this simple dish, a favorite with bachelors and students, can be made better without much work or expense. Here are some ideas towards that end.
First of all, use the 80% lean 20% fat hamburger (minced beef) that supermarkets offer. Hamburger is not a diet dish in any respect, but in moderation there is nothing wrong with it, and it is not excessively high in fat. Trying to get less fat by buying the 90% or even 94% product that is also available is nearly pointless from a fat view, and it will not cook well at all. The 90% "lean meat" still has fat in it, incidentally. The 10% is just added suet. When you use 80% hamburger, the excess fat renders out and can be separated. Or, if you do not mind the extra fat, it can be used for gravy.
For one hamburger steak, about 4 oz. of meat, mix in a teaspoon of parsley and a teaspoon of crushed garlic, with some salt and pepper. Add finely chopped onion, or use a teaspoon of onion powder. Mix this thoroughly by kneading, and make a reasonably thick patty. Fry relatively slowly until the juices running out are clear. It's only reasonably safe if the meat is no longer pink, which I prefer anyway. If you must have pink meat, grind the hamburger yourself from round steak or chuck, and do not use the supermarket's pre-packaged stuff. You don't know where it's been or what it's been mixed with, but it will be just fine provided it is cooked thoroughly.
For some added pleasure, slice some mushrooms and fry them in the pan juices, perhaps with a little mustard and some brandy. Or, stir in some flour and cook to make a roux, then add water to get a gravy. The gravy can be cream gravy too, as for chicken fried steak. Cut up some chiles and fry them a little for a tasty accompaniment. Or, fry a small tomato cut in halves, together with or in place of the mushrooms. Some sliced onions are also nice. To fry them, add a little butter if there is not enough fat in the skillet. Any of these things will add interest to the dish. Serve with Worcestershire sauce, or a steak sauce, or freshly-made hot mustard. I like hamburger steak with mashed potatoes and Brussels sprouts cooked just enough.
This is called Hamburger Steak after Hamburg Steak, or Deutsches Steak, which is actually steak tartare--spiced raw beef--and is excellent, but this is not it.
Composed by J. B. Calvert
Created 11 October 2002