Hamburgers were my favorite food from some time in infancy all the way to my early twenties, when I upgraded to Buffalo Chicken. Still, the hamburger has a place in my heart (hopefully it doesn’t choke my heart with all the cholesterol it contains.)
While covering other interesting topics, I plan to use this piece to present a hamburger recipe that I invented but the inspiration came elsewhere.
Family members of mine frequently tuned their television sets to the New Orleans station WWL-TV. There was a gentleman employed by that station named Frank Davis. He did reports on hunting, cooking, and fishing. In addition to those, he often covered humorous or light-hearted pieces of news, to which he applied the phrase “Naturally N’Awlins.” Prior to his employment at WWL-TV, he worked as a Wildlife and Fisheries Agent. Sadly he passed away in 2013, but the Interstate 10 Twinspan Bridge over Lake Ponchitrain connecting New Orleans to its suburb of Slidell, Louisiana, was rightfully renamed the “Frank Davis Naturally N’Awlins Bridge” in his honor. N’Awlins is a butchered pronunciation of “New Orleans” by the locals. By the way, this piece will have several references and explanations of Louisiana colloquialisms. I feel the need to point these out because I am proud of my Louisiana heritage. I feel the need to explain because I realize that this blog has readers from around the world and they would not appreciate these Louisiana-isms without a due explanation.
It was from watching one of his pieces on either my parents’ or grandparents’ television sets as a preteen, likely while waiting to catch the school bus that I was inspired, at least partially, to come up with what I think is the near-perfect recipe for homemade hamburgers. Individual results may vary.
I’ll admit that I am still fine-tuning this recipe, but I think I have it mastered well enough to share with the world.
If you, the reader, are wondering what was so special about Frank Davis’ Home Made Hamburger recipe, I will tell you:
He fried the ground meat (or grind meat, as my former Bayou Blue neighbors say) in Mayonaise (or “my-nez” as all the Y’ats say.) I say former neighbors because a wicked and abusive woman named Ida drove me out of Bayou Blue and I hate her for it! Frank Davis was obviously a Y’at but I cannot remember for the life of me how he pronounced the word mayonnaise. For those of you who wonder where is Bayou Blue, it is a community on the Northeastern outskirts of Houma, Louisiana. And for those of you who wonder about Houma, it is a small city between South Central and Southeast Louisiana, the seat of government for Terrebonne Parish, named after the Native American Houmas tribe. And finally, a Parish is an administrative subdivision used in Louisiana that is the equivalent to a county or borough elsewhere in the United States. People in certain parts of Terrebonne Parish, pronounce ground meat as “grind meat” for whatever reason and I find it amusing. Maybe I should have been a linguist because I like to study dialects and I find certain regional colloquialisms to be of much humor. Speaking of regional colloquialisms, a Y’at, for those who do not know, is typical, though not exclusively, a white person native to the Greater New Orleans area. They are known for saying certain phrases, such as, “Where y’at?” (a contraction of “Where you at?” which is a form of asking “Where are you?” or “What is your location?” or in the case of CB radio “What’s your twenty?”) Y’at English is very similar to Brooklyn or Long Island, New York English. My theory behind that as I was presented by a former friend and neighbor is that most of the white children in New Orleans went to catholic schools and natively spoke French (either Cajun or Creole French.) However, these catholic schools were taught by a detachment of nuns from Brooklyn and they taught these children how to speak English but in the Brooklyn dialect. So the white catholic population of Greater New Orleans learned English in this fashion and it is still widely spoken to this day, especially by the older members of that population.
Now, since we have all of that explained (and I hope you, the reader, found it amusing or at least educational), let’s get down to the business at hand.
I wish to present the recipe for what I think is a durn good homemade hamburger but why don’t you try it for yourself.
I don’t know exactly what Frank Davis added to his ground beef prior to frying it in mayonnaise, but my version deviates somewhat from that. I don’t exactly fry the hamburger patties in the mayonnaise, rather I add it to the mixture along with other herbs and spices.
So, here are the ingredients:
Sesame Seed Hamburger Buns
Fresh or Frozen, then Defrosted Ground Beef
Panko Bread Crumbs
Mayonaise of your choice, as long as it’s authentic
Large Tomatoes (I prefer the Creole variety)
Shredded Iceberg Lettuce
Large White Onions
First, take either a skillet or use your griddle, grease it with a very minute amount of the cooking spray of your choice (Pam would suffice) and light your burner, and raise to high heat, thus allowing your cookware to get hot. This will save cooking time.
Next, while your griddle or skillet is getting hot, take a large mixing bowl. I like to borrow the ones that my mom purchased from Schwegmann’s back in the day. For those who don’t know, Schwegmann’s was a legendary, but now defunct, grocery chain in the New Orleans area, that existed from 1869 to 1995. It (and The Real Superstore-another New Orleans grocer and competitor to Schwegmann’s) was the inspiration for Melinda’s Massive Supermarket that appears in several stories I wrote over the years.
Then add the fresh or defrosted ground beef.
Add the mayonnaise, I would suggest one to one and a half tablespoons per pound of ground beef.
Add in the parsley, garlic powder, onion powder, black pepper, and bread crumbs.
Just eyeball the seasonings. When each of the bits of herbs and spices is evenly distributed and visible throughout the entire mixture, then you should have enough. One thing about Louisiana cooking that probably annoys the rest of the world is that we hardly ever measure our herbs and spices. We tend to just wing it or eyeball it and somehow we still have one of the best if not the best cuisine in the world.
Thoroughly mix everything together by hand. This part is the most unpleasant because it results in very greasy hands. And just for CYB purposes please disinfect your hands before and after mixing these ingredients.
Next form the mixture into patties of your choice of width and thickness. This all depends on how many you are feeding and how you like your hamburgers. I typically make them the size that is 2-3 times thicker than what would be sold at Burger King or Wendy’s, but slightly less wide.
There is no need to add salt because the mayonnaise makes the patties salty enough.
Also, the mayonnaise is a more flavorful substitute for just plain raw eggs and is what makes this recipe stand out from other hamburger recipes.
Finally, the Panko Bread Crumbs is a binding agent, helping hold the patties together, especially whilst cooking.
Many of you New Orleans people would like to use Blue Plate Mayonaise and that is fine. However, I find that store brand mayonnaise has more flavor. The two brands I am partial to are the ones labeled as “Rouse’s” which is another fine Louisiana grocery chain. Or Best Choice which is distributed in several grocery stores that are supplied by Associated Wholesale Grocers, of which Rouse’s is currently one. But, I suppose, that Kraft or Hellman’s would also suffice.
Place patties in skillet or griddle and reduce to medium heat. Press down on the patties with your spatula and consistently flip them until there is no more pinkness in the patties. I must add that the patties should be flipped frequently enough to prevent charring
For CYB purposes, take a meat thermometer, and make durn sure that the innermost core of the patties has reached a temperature of 160 Degrees Fahrenheit, which is 71.11 Degrees Celsius AKA Centigrade or 344.261 Kelvin!
While the last of the patties are near done cooking, take your Sesame Seed Buns and place them on a large, microwave-safe platter and sprinkle some water from your kitchen tap on them. Place them in the microwave oven for roughly 45 seconds. This results in a delicious steamed bun.
While waiting for the buns and the patties to slightly cool, slice your tomatoes into about one either eighth or one-quarter inch thick round slices. Then slice your raw white onion into round slices one-eighth of an inch thick.
Place a generous amount of mayonnaise on both the inner sides of the top and bottom half of the buns. The messier, the better. Many Y’at’s judge the goodness of a sandwich by how many napkins are needed whilst eating it. The more napkins, the better the sandwich!
Next, add the pattie on top of the inner side of the bottom half of the bun.
Place one tomato slice on top of the pattie, then place the 3 to 4 rings on raw white onion on top of the tomato slice. Top the onion slices with a handful of shredded Iceberg Lettuce, then place the top half of the bun over the lettuce and press down until the Hamburger Sandwich is compact.
Repeat the process until all are prepared this way.
Serve and enjoy.
Now you, the reader may need to make some modifications to this recipe as you see fit.
Remember, I am still fine-tuning and may give updates in the future as I could change this recipe some.
I must admit that I have no culinary degree at all and that cooking and anything else in which I have any considerable skill, I either taught to myself through independent learning and in reality, is a gift imparted to me by God Almighty. If you tried and enjoyed my recipe or it has inspired you to create a similar recipe, give the glory to God and just realize that he used me but all glory is due unto Him!
I hope that you the reader, have enjoyed this piece and that you were informed, enlightened, and maybe even entertained.
May God richly bless you!