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ISO the definitive burger toppings, sides, etc?

Harters Jun 4, 2008 02:42 PM

OK. I have my meat - organic Dexter beef bought at the farmers market. I have my bread - organic from the supermarket.

What toppings do you suggest to make *the* definitive best-ever world-class burger? And what on the side?

If possible (but only if possible), please stick to generic items as a particular brand available where you are may not be sold where I am.


  1. scoopG Jun 4, 2008 02:51 PM

    OK, you asked for it. Get ready for the onslaught of replies!

    For me, the perfect burger and toppings include:

    Cheddar Cheese
    all served on a toasted bun.

    and if there is room....some fried onions!

    1. e
      ErikaK Jun 4, 2008 03:00 PM

      Home made mayo/aioli
      red onion
      cheddar or muenster cheese
      pickle (good pickles sliced)
      home made beer batter onion rings on the side

      1. beelzebozo Jun 4, 2008 03:10 PM

        my favorites, mostly culled from tyler florence:

        - caramelized onions with anchovy paste
        - slice of heirloom tomato
        - bacon
        - arugula
        - two burger sliced dill pickles
        - two slices of american cheese
        - basil lemon aoli
        - bun toasted with butter

        . . . just talking about it is starving me

        1. ccbweb Jun 4, 2008 03:17 PM

          Lightly buttered bun, toasted around the edges (on a flat top griddle or iron skillet, or something similar) (like at In N Out burger).
          Lettuce, tomato, very thinly sliced onion - red or white or yellow
          American cheese slice (the actual American cheese from the deli at a grocery store or other deli, not prewrapped stuff).

          That's it.

          19 Replies
          1. re: ccbweb
            Harters Jun 4, 2008 03:30 PM

            You're going to have to help me out here. I'm not an American and don't know what "American cheese" is - presumably it's a specific type.

            Could you please try and describe it and I'll see what substitute I can think of that might work the same. Cheddar, I understand, of course.

            1. re: Harters
              MMRuth Jun 4, 2008 03:33 PM

              I'd use some kind of cheddar myself - and, other than those prewrapped slices, I'm not sure what American cheese is either.

              My favorite burger though is a pork/bacon/chorizo burger, with a slice of aged manchego, romesco sauce, aioli and arugula on a brioche bun. Out of this world..

              1. re: MMRuth
                MMRuth Jun 4, 2008 03:37 PM

                Forgot these:

                1. re: MMRuth
                  Harters Jun 5, 2008 01:06 AM

                  Consider them forgotten. Instantly

                  1. re: Harters
                    Harters Jun 6, 2008 10:53 AM


                    Deepest and sincere apologies for my post. I had misread yours as "forget these", not "forgot these" - as in you were giving an example of what not to do. I should have realised you wouldnt do that - I shall now go and stand in the naughty corner until you tell me I am forgiven.


                    1. re: Harters
                      MMRuth Jun 6, 2008 10:56 AM

                      You are forgiven - I thought it was just an odd joke that I didn't understand - chalked it up to wry British humor!

                      Here's a link to the recipe, by the way:


                      It's from Suzanne Goin's Sunday Suppers at Lucques - a terrific cookbook that was COTM last year and is still one of my favorites.

                      1. re: MMRuth
                        Harters Jun 6, 2008 11:19 AM

                        Phew! I'm relieved.

                        Recipe looks fab - thanks. My organic supplier does minced beef & lamb but not pork - must look out for some elsewhere (I won't touch our supermarket pork)


                        1. re: Harters
                          MMRuth Jun 6, 2008 11:28 AM

                          Could you grind your own?

                  2. re: MMRuth
                    moh Jun 6, 2008 12:39 AM

                    Dang MMRuth!! How am I going to go back to my regular burgers now... You do eat well...

                    I also like adding those sliced banana pepper pickles to my burger for a spicy kick.

                  3. re: MMRuth
                    Miss Needle Jun 4, 2008 04:28 PM

                    Ooohhh, that sounds so good.

                    I generally have my burgers plain with some ketchup, red onion and tomato. But if I were to load it up, I would do:

                    brioche bun
                    oven-roasted tomato
                    caramelized onions
                    grilled portobello mushroom
                    cheddar cheese
                    sunnyside up fried egg

                  4. re: Harters
                    alanbarnes Jun 4, 2008 03:54 PM

                    It's a manufactured dairy product: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American.... Which came as a surprise to me; based on mouthfeel, I had always assumed it was a petroleum byproduct.

                    IMHO, a great burger starts and ends with great meat and bread. Complementary ingredients should be added carefully, avoiding anything that might upstage, overwhelm, or distract from the main event. Salt, pepper, and a little homemade mayonnaise--you really don't need more than that.

                    1. re: Harters
                      beelzebozo Jun 4, 2008 03:55 PM


                      "American cheese is a common processed cheese. It is orange, yellow, or white in color and mild in flavor, with a medium-firm consistency, and melts easily. It has traditionally been made from a blend of cheeses, most often Colby and Cheddar. Today's American cheese is generally no longer made from a blend of all-natural cheeses, but instead is a processed cheese (i.e. it is manufactured from a set of ingredients such as milk, whey, milkfat, milk protein concentrate, whey protein concentrate, salt) which meets the legal definition of cheese."

                      1. re: beelzebozo
                        ccbweb Jun 4, 2008 09:44 PM

                        Thanks, beelzebozo, that's the stuff I wrote about. At some deli counters you can still get the actual stuff that is, in fact, cheese. In its absence, I'd go with a mild cheddar or even a mild muenster cheese slice.

                      2. re: Harters
                        Harters Jun 5, 2008 01:13 AM

                        Thanks to both for the Wiki links. As far as I tell, our "processed cheese" would seem the likely substitute. Er - thanks but no thanks. I'll pass on authenticity and go for a Red Leicester which will have good taste and will be along the right texture lines.

                        1. re: Harters
                          ccbweb Jun 5, 2008 10:08 AM

                          I wanted to clarify, in my own defense here: I'm definitely not advocating "processed cheese." I don't think the term "authentic" could be applied to it with a straight face no matter the context.

                          I'd do what you're doing; seek the texture coupled with a mild flavor that plays well with others. Can't wait to hear what your results are!

                        2. re: Harters
                          beggsy Jun 5, 2008 01:14 PM

                          American cheese is (are) processed cheese slices.. yes? Individuallly wrapped. The kind you most often get on take-out burgers.

                          1. re: beggsy
                            BarmyFotheringayPhipps Jun 5, 2008 01:16 PM

                            No. The individually wrapped slices (which are legally required to be called "cheese food," not "cheese") are made largely with vegetable oil. American cheese is in fact a dairy product.

                            1. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps
                              mpalmer6c Jun 5, 2008 11:03 PM

                              No, in the U.S. something with "cheese" in the name is not "made largely with vegetable oil." Perhaps you're thinking of margerine.

                              1. re: mpalmer6c
                                beelzebozo Jun 6, 2008 12:26 AM

                                whatever it's made from, i think it gets a lot of undeserved hate.

                      3. m
                        mpalmer6c Jun 4, 2008 08:09 PM

                        Toasted soft sourdough bun
                        Dill stacker
                        Sweet pickle relish
                        Slice of red onion
                        Sometimes cheddar

                        1. i
                          irishnyc Jun 4, 2008 08:14 PM

                          Blue cheese w/ sauteed mushrooms, maybe a slice of bacon

                          1. z
                            ziggylu Jun 4, 2008 08:15 PM

                            Swiss Cheese wtih grilled onions. Sometimes some barbecue sauce.

                            1. Bat Guano Jun 5, 2008 12:38 PM

                              Cheddar melted onto the burger; toasted bun with mayo; sliced onion; lettuce; tomato; dill pickles and/or jalapeno peppers optional.

                              1. BarmyFotheringayPhipps Jun 5, 2008 01:11 PM

                                Toasted bun, seasame seeds preferred
                                Mustard (and only mustard)
                                Cheese (American or mild cheddar)
                                Thin-sliced onion
                                Dill pickle chips

                                1. DockPotato Jun 5, 2008 01:40 PM

                                  Instead of lettuce, we often use a plain cabbage leaf.

                                  1. h
                                    Harters Jun 6, 2008 04:22 AM

                                    Thanks for all the ideas. I see a pattern emerging.

                                    No-one mentions sides. Do you do sides with burgers?

                                    3 Replies
                                    1. re: Harters
                                      MMRuth Jun 6, 2008 04:47 AM

                                      Sure - coleslaw, potato chips, french fries (never made them myself), potato salad .....

                                      1. re: MMRuth
                                        alanbarnes Jun 6, 2008 09:10 AM

                                        Agreed on all counts, plus onion rings, baked beans, onion rings, dill pickle spears, macaroni sald, and did I mention onion rings?

                                      2. re: Harters
                                        beelzebozo Jun 6, 2008 05:20 AM

                                        oh, you bet. my current favorite hamburger side is sweet potato fries with a brown sugar and honey yogurt dip, but it's probably just because the taste is so novel. nothing wrong with a delicious shoestring french fry.

                                      3. c
                                        cheesymama Jun 6, 2008 05:24 AM

                                        Nobody with avocado?
                                        Cheddar or Monterey Jack (or both) with fried onions and avocado. On the side, grilled potato salad with chipotle vinaigrette.

                                        2 Replies
                                        1. re: cheesymama
                                          beelzebozo Jun 6, 2008 05:28 AM

                                          i've become disenchanted with avocado on sandwiches. i love it in salads, but as much as i love that creamy texture, i find it tends to mush up a well constructed sandwich. but the taste is definitely a plus.

                                          1. re: beelzebozo
                                            hannaone Jun 6, 2008 09:54 AM

                                            Make an avocado spread:
                                            Mashed avocado, some minced or pressed garlic, some crushed bacon, and a very small amount of your favorite salad oil (or just a touch of bacon grease). Use instead of mayo, ketchup, etc.

                                        2. hannaone Jun 6, 2008 10:00 AM

                                          On a toasted bun/roll of your choice:
                                          shredded cabbage
                                          medium or hard fried egg
                                          crisp bacon
                                          thin sliced cucumber
                                          pepper jack, swiss, provolone, cheddar, or your favorite cheese
                                          fresh crisp kimchi

                                          1. f
                                            Finsmom Jun 6, 2008 03:18 PM

                                            burgers at our house are almost always served with a kick a$$ homemade salsa... Try this one (it is one of my favs and always gets compliments). I could eat buckets...


                                            1. f
                                              Finsmom Jun 6, 2008 03:21 PM

                                              I meant on the side, with tortilla chips, not on the burger itself... We like our burgers pretty plain at our house (but are best with my homemade super dilly pickles)!

                                              1. othervoice Jun 6, 2008 03:46 PM

                                                I can eat a hamburger just about any way it's fixed......but

                                                my absolute favorite:

                                                Thick slice of the best tomato you can find
                                                thick slices of bacon

                                                On the side..
                                                fries, sweet or regular
                                                baked beans
                                                corn on the cob
                                                cole slaw
                                                potato salad
                                                macaroni salad

                                                1. Chew on That Jun 6, 2008 03:51 PM

                                                  When I think of burger toppings, I think of:

                                                  cheddar cheese

                                                  I personally like mine with cheddar cheese and ketchup though :)

                                                  1. h
                                                    Harters Jun 8, 2008 01:23 PM

                                                    OK, this is how it went.

                                                    The bun toasted. Bottom half “buttered” with mayo. Top half “buttered” with mustard. I used “French mustard”, as we call it here – dark brown Bordeaux mustard, not Dijon. Works better with beef, IMO.

                                                    Working upwards, some shreds of Cos lettuce on the mayo. Then the burger. Good flavour – don’t know if Dexter cattle are grown where you are but they’re a favourite smallholder’s beast here and often in farmers’ markets. Look out for it if it is available to you.

                                                    Then topped with onion, tomato and a slice of dill flavoured gherkin (German import).

                                                    As recommended, sides were coleslaw and chips. The chips from Tyrell – a small producer from Herefordshire who grows the spuds as well – small enough producer to add the potato variety to the bag – in this case “Lady Claire”. Most oddly, they call them “chips” not “crisps”. Also on the side a few “Pepperdew” (brand name) – sweet but hot small peppers about the size of a Scotch Bonnet (but nowhere near as hot).

                                                    My thanks for all the help. A great casual dinner eaten on the patio whilst Mrs H recounted details of her weekend in Tuscany. Envious? Who me?


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