"Maid Rite" Burger

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Invented in North East Iowa during the depression, this Sloppy Joe-like burger was born out of scarcity and frugality. Now a cult-classic, Josh Ozersky shows you the right way to make a “Maid Rite.”

Video Transcript

Hi I'm Josh Ozersky and I'm here for eHow.com to make the Maid Rite. The Maid Rite is an American regional hamburger classic that's generally forgotten and obscure but is totally awesome. I'm cooking hamburger meat and bacon on very high heat. You say why are you doing that? You're burning it. There's all kinds of brown things stuck here to the pan. Ah, that's right, brown things stuck to the pan taste good. The only problem is they're stuck but when you have onions and beer and other wet things they scrape right up and then they become part of the liquid and liquid is what this recipe is all about. I've got my brown crusties here, I've got some good grease to work with so now I have some gross overcooked hamburger meat and undercooked bacon. The only place for that is in the garbage. I'll scrape it out a little bit. I'm going to throw it away. Okay, so now I have two chopped up onions and they're going to go in here like this. What I'm doing now is I'm not frying onions, I am softening them, a little salt there by the way, in case you didn't like to notice I like to put salt in. With this wooden spoon I'm going to work this around. Now, the onions need a little bit of help in terms of giving off the water so that's why we have our fall boy, also good for the cook, oh, so now we're getting this nice mixture of onions that are going to soften as they soften they give out their water and combined with the beer that I poured in which was really very little, they're going to pick up all that stuff and become the basis for at least part of our Maid Rite. The Maid Rite was invented in Northeastern Iowa in the 1930s. It was a product like scarcity and depression like so many American hamburgers, like so many classics of American vernacular cuisine. Alright so these have softened a little bit. So now I have some hamburger, ground chuck 80/20, 80/20 is the proportion of fat to meat. The fact of the matter is if you could get 70/30 or an even fattier burger that would be better because like everything else I'm cooking this is grotesquely unhealthy and depends for its mouth feel flavor and general soul fortifying qualities on its greasiness, fattiness and general ability to warm the soul and clog the heart. So the meat goes in and then a little bit more salt for both flavor and also dehydration qualities and what I'm going to do here is I'm going to move the meat around so basically all I'm looking to do here is to get rid of the raw red color of the hamburger okay? Because the fact is if you cook it all the way, then by, you know, by the time you're actually done with the dish, it's a weird denatured desiccated protein that might as well be seitan. So this gets worked around good. I've almost got the color gone. It's not quite ready though, you can't just skip ahead like see that? That's like raw meat. You don't want raw meat in this. You want it to get at least a little bit of a brown on just to lose that color. This is about what it looks like. Look, it's gray, there's little bits of pink here and there. It's clearly not cooked but it's cooked enough so that it doesn't look gross. Now I'm going to braise it down a little bit and what am I going to braise it in? Beer, pickles and mustard and things like that. So what I'm going to do is I'm going to put this beer in here. Not the whole tall boy but a good amount of it. I'm going to jack that heat up so that it comes to a furious boil because I want to cook the alcohol out of it. I want the taste and everything but I want the alcohol to burn out and then I want it to cook down a little. Now if you cook meat in alcohol at low temperatures, it breaks down the proteins and it makes it kind of like soft and velvety you know, this beer has boiled off a little bit. I want to give this a little extra body, a little depth, a little meat flavor. So this is veal demi gloss. It comes in the freezer containers or the freezer departments of some gourmet stores. Basically it's super intense cooked down stock. I'm putting a little of that in. Now if you don't have that, by all means, I would strongly recommend using Rachael's beef stock which is really good and I would use probably three quarters of a cup of it. Because this stuff is so concentrated I put in like a quarter of a cup. Now we have salty, we have bitter. Alright we're going to put in some mustard here because we have pickles and beer so we want to have mustard. I have a bottle of pickles here. These are pickles and pickle juice. Now I prefer the little round pickles but the fact of the matter is that once these pickles cook in all the stock and all the pickle juice and everything else, they're going to be very soft and flaccid and floppy so it will be actually possible to fold them on themselves. You don't really, the truth of the matter is it doesn't matter what shape the pickles are in. The pickle juice is really what's doing the work. Alright, so now this cooks in there like this and maybe we'll take a little bit of Worcestershire for some accent. Alright, I have the basic components now of my Maid Rite. I'm going to turn this down, super low and I am going to go away. See you later. Alright my Maid Rite has been cooking a good long time. It's probably been almost upwards of an hour and all that beer and pickle juice and beef stock and everything else has cooked down and I now have a deliciously velvety meat with all this kind of lacquered flaccid pickles and onions. Now I have my all powerful white squishy bun. So I'm going to take a slotted spoon and I'm going to put the meat on the bun. Alright, there you have it, the Maid Rite, an infinite well of delicious perfect hamburgers, courtesy of history and Northeastern Iowa. I'm Josh Ozersky and this is eHow.com.

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