Turkey Because I'm Chicken

I grew up on hamburgers. I used to pinch pieces of the raw meat when my grandma was making meatloaf or burgers. She used a castiron meat grinder that she screwed onto the tabletop and ground it all herself. Years later, when I first saw someone eat steak tartare in France (a plateful of raw ground beef with a raw egg on top), I was overcome by both desire and revulsion.

We were regulars at Val's Burger's in Hayward, California when I was a kid. My cousin and I would get charcoal grilled "baby burgers," grilled by Val himself, and then add ketchup from a squirt bottle, lots of pickles. We'd share a plastic basket of crinkle-cut french fries and be in heaven.

Fear of mad cow disease has pretty much taken me off of ground beef, so whenever I go to a diner I usually order the same thing: a turkey burger, well done with tomato, onion, and mustard. They are usually pretty dry and sometimes taste like cardboard with mustard. I decided that I could possibly do better, so I took a stab at my own turkey burgers.

I didn't do any of the "fancy" things that make diner turkey burgers even worse. I didn't add chopped onion to the meat or add anything else that makes you sorry you ordered it. I simply made patties out of the burgers, put a little salt, pepper and ground coriander on top and then put them on the grill. I pulled out some of the bready part of the bun, gave each a brush of olive oil and let them toast on the grill for the last couple of minutes.

What really set these burgers apart, I think, were the condiments. I'm so tired of getting 1/2" slices of onion and tomatoes at diners. I know it takes more trouble to slice them thinly, but they would save money by having the onion and tomatoes go further. Mine were about 1/8", which seemed perfect. You could double up on tomatoes without having them slip out of the sandwich. I couldn't find dill pickle chips, so I went for sliced, and they were fine too.

I got mixed results with this dinner. The Husband was extremely happy (or extremely hungry—or both); he ate three! I thought they were much, much better than anything I previously ordered, and ate two (they were small). The Girl ate the pickles. Lots of them. At one point during dinner she came over and climbed on my lap and whispered, "I think I'm going to throw up." We waltzed away from the table, and I applauded her for paying attention to her body.

I know I'm going to be dissatisfied next time I go to a diner. Maybe I'll have to be like The Husband and order the fish filet sandwich. Next time I'm in the Bay Area, though, I'm going to Vals.

1 comment:

Linda said...

Wow, Val's burgers...I grew up on those, too!