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Jeremiah Tower Cooks

By Jeremiah Tower

Published 2002

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There is a great line in the movie Red Heat when the American detective explains to the Russian “the four major food groups: hamburgers, French fries, donuts, and coffee.”

He’s not too far off, and I love the fact that some of the dishes most often associated with my cooking have been, like hamburgers, the simplest. I also love the fact that the reason for our success with things like hamburgers is that we followed some simple but essentially important rules: grind the meat yourself with its seasonings of salt and pepper; use the best quality chuck and top round; remember that if you are using a charcoal grill, the beef should have 22 percent fat, if using a flat-top griddle or frying pan, only 18 percent; do not overwork the patties; season them again just before cooking; and serve them on dense, hot buttered buns, English muffins, or baguette bread. The bread must be buttered and toasted for that final sensual “push.” I love bacon or pancetta on top of burgers, and also:

  • whole poached garlic cloves with basil mayonnaise
  • coarsely ground black Sumatran pepper with sour cream
  • avocado slices marinated in salt and lime juice served with chipotle mayonnaise
  • mushroom hash with garlic mayonnaise
  • chopped salt-preserved lemons mixed with chopped fresh mint
  • fresh salsa
  • fresh salsa, bacon, and avocado
  • flavored butters, like Montpelier
  • mayonnaise flavored with chopped capers and salted anchovies
  • fresh sage mayonnaise
  • BLT on top
  • fresh horseradish cream sauce

But my favorite is the hamburger made with black truffles.