Burger Tactics

Why try to cram the whole thing in your mouth?


Taiwanese dentists began campaigning last year about the dangers of large hamburgers. Their concerns regard an increase in jaw dislocations that have been attributed to diners trying to open mouths wide enough to take super-sized bites of the burgers being served at some of the nation’s fast food restaurants.

Here in the States, the threat of jaw dislocation by hamburger lurks closer to home. Handmade patties tend to be more round and thick than commercial patties. And while fast-food buns seem designed to melt away at first bite, the kaiser roll brought home from the bakery could add solid inches to a burger’s height. Add a creative desire to explore the possibilities of waffles or fried turkey on a burger, and one could really approach the danger zone.

A crumbling meat patty held together by soggy buns with tomato slices squeezing out the side and juices dripping into a puddle on the plate is generally a sight that appeals only to whoever ate the first half. A burger that’s busy with fixings may have flavor, but the more that’s piled on, the harder it becomes to hold it all together.

With the failures of Fourth of July barbecues behind us, now’s a good time to discuss some ways to make a homemade hamburger tasty, pretty and safe. My strategy is to serve burgers as a deconstructed palette of options. If using cheese, it should be melted on the patty. The bread is sliced thin and toasted on one side. Jars of condiments crowd the table, including mayo, homemade catsup, hot sauce and mustard made from vinegar-soaked mustard seeds. Other fixings might include avocado, tomato slices, bacon, roasted green chiles,