According to the National Restaurant Association's survey of American Culinary chefs, gourmet hamburgers are one of the hottest trends on restaurant menus for 2009 along with bite-size desserts and mini-burgers.
Hamburgers are really making a name for themselves. Many of the family style restaurants like Ruby Tuesday and Red Robin are serving chef inspired gourmet burgers on nice buns and fancy toppings for a cost of around $10.
Chef's everywhere are rediscovering the burger.
The gourmet burger market is exploding, and changing the way people view what was once perceived as a grab-and-go meal.
I took a look at the menus of the restaurants below to see what they are serving to get a handle on what all the hoopla is about.
- Flippers in San Francisco Ca between $9 and $10
- Barney's Gourmet Hamburgers San Francisco no prices
- Red Robin chain price range Between $9 and $10
- The Counter chain no prices cool concept
- Bobby Flay's Burger Palace NY & NJ between $6.50 and $7.50
- Cheeseburger in Paradise no prices
- 5 Guys Burgers and Fries no prices nothing special
I found some strange hamburger names and odd ingredients.
Sautéed spinach with a hint of fresh garlic, topped with Feta cheese.
Lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, avocado & Feta cheese in pita bread.
With bleu cheese, diced beets and walnuts
These sound interesting and something I might like to try.
With eggplant, garlic and tomato, sauteed in olive oil
Spice crusted burger with coleslaw, Jack cheese, BBQ sauce and pickles.
Santa Fe Burger
Queso sauce, pickled jalapenos and corn chips
I created a google spreadsheet to record the various ingredients as I was looking at the menus so that I'd be able to see all the different ingredients the chefs are using and come up with new ideas for gourmet burgers at home.
Burgers are so quick to make at home that once you get in the habit you might wonder why you ever bothered to buy them.
You can easily make your own gourmet hamburgers with flavor combinations that your family and friends will love. With a bulk package of ground beef, some beautiful rolls from the bakery and a little imagination, you can create your own gourmet burgers for a fraction of the cost they are charging at the restaurants.
The Counter Restaurant-Build a Burger Bar
I found The Counter a concept based restaurant in Culver City, California very interesting. It offers customers a "choose-as-you-go" experience that yields more than 300,000 possible burger combinations. Diners are greeted with a clip board to choose the items they like to build their own gourmet burger.
- Step 1 Choose Your Burger
- Step 2 Choose Your Cheese
- Step 3 Choose Your Bun or Bowl
- Step 4 Choose Your toppings
- Step 5 Choose Your Sauce
I used this same concept in creating my spreadsheet of ingredients.
Choose Your Spud-Pimp Your Fries
I found another restaurant that used the same philosophy but added potatoes into the mix. They offered a choice of tater tots, season fries, thick steak fries, skinny fries, potatoes chips or potato salad and an option to pimp your fries with the following options:
- Cheese sauce
- Sour cream
Choose Your Burger
Who says your burger has to be ground beef? Leave it to those crazy health nuts in California to come up with the great idea of using chicken breast, fillet of fish or veggie burgers instead of beef. I like that you can add a lower calorie option and still have a great tasting burger.
Choose Your Bun
The plain ole bun is so boring. Jazz up your burgers with a nice fresh onion roll or one of the many other options from the bakery section of your local supermarket. Who says you need a bun? I've used flour torillas, pita bread or a bead of lettuce with no bun at all.
Choose Your Cheese
Buy a good quality cheese it will make all the difference in the taste of your burgers. Don't use that processed junk in plastic wrappers. Get a nice hunk of cheese and slice it yourself.
Here are some options to play with:
- Blue Cheese
- Herbed Goat Cheese
Choose Your Toppings
Move beyond the basic lettuce, tomato, and onions to create your gourmet burgers.Why not grill some mushrooms, onions, and green peppers. Some of the more exotic burgers I saw on the menus had grilled eggplant, zuchini or pineapple. I also saw marinated vegetables like artichokes, mushrooms, jalapeno peppers and pepperoncini. Alway get the freshest vegetables you can find. Instead of lettuce what not try watercrest? Instead of onions try scallions. Instead of sliced tomatoes why not try a homemade pico de gallo? How about adding a little crunch for something different? Try potato chips, shredded carrots, tortilla chips, or french onion sticks. The secret to creating the real gourmet burger experience at home is to use some out of the ordinary ingredients.
Choose Your Sauce
Plain old ketchup a mustard or mayo just won't do for a gourmet burger. Here is where you can really have fun and create a unique taste. There really are some great ready made sauces in the supermarkets these days. Spend a few minutes in the spice aisle of your grocery store to see what all is available. I've used BBQ, A1 steak sauce, teriyaki, caribbean jerk, mango salsa, soy sauce, nacho cheese, worchester and pizza sauce on my burger creations. Don't forget to think about using the salad dressings also. Ranch, blue cheese and russian dressings are all good on a burger. If you want to use ketchup, mustard or mayo try jazzing it up a bit with some stir in ideas to make it taste more gourmet.