The humble hamburger deserves a place on any "20th Century American Classics"
menu, being a 20th century invention (according to most sources), and an icon of
American culture worldwide, thanks to those awful imitations of the real thing being
sold by the billions every day. New York's famous "21" Club introduced
what must be the world's most expensive hamburger in 1975, which they served "nude"
(without bun or bread), and which devotees immediately pronounced "the best
burger in the world." When it was removed from their menu in 1996 it sold for
$21.40 at lunch and a whopping $24 at dinner. Here is a classy version of an American
classic, adapted from "The "21" Cookbook" by Michael Lomonoco:
1/4 cup finely chopped celery
1/4 cup chicken broth
2 pounds ground top sirloin
1/4 cup bread crumbs
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
3 tablespoons butter
Combine the celery and chicken broth in a small saucepan over very low heat and
poach the celery for 20 minutes.
Drain the celery and cool.
Combine the celery with the remaining ingredients except the butter, mixing well
with your hands. Gently shape into 4 large patties, being careful not to compact
the meat any more than necessary.
Heat the butter in a large, heavy skillet over moderate heat until the butter
is amber in color. Brown the burgers 6 minutes on each side, then place the skillet
in a preheated 350 degree F oven for 6 to 8 minutes for medium rare, a few additional
minutes for better done.
Yield: 4 servings
Note: Due to the possibility of E. coli contamination, the U.S. Department of
Agriculture recommends cooking all meat well done.)