I started writing these tailgating posts in 2014. This is my last regularly scheduled one.
I can’t tell you how much fun I’ve had. I’ve written about brunch as sanctioned by Vaclav Havel. I drew stupid pictures because my camera failed me and I threw in warring stick figures. I’ve been editorially indulged in ways I never expected. I wrote about Churchill in reference to Butch Jones for god’s sake. I’ve felt wind in my hair, riding test boats off the black galaxies and seen an attack fleet burn like a match and disappear.
My rule, and I broke it once, was to never repeat a recipe. I got caught with a steak sandwich. I didn’t think I’d written about it before and when I realized I had it was too late. I didn’t have anything in reserve so I hit submit and posted it anyway. I cook and take pictures on a Wednesday and write it up Thursday for a Friday publication but I pretend the early hours of Friday still count as Thursday so I can say I’m on time. I hate to think how often my Thursday deadline was met by a weary eyed editor at some point between my one or two am upload and my mid Friday afternoon email asking if I got forgotten and shouldn’t I have been posted by noon or at whatever time gets adjusted for PST and daylight savings. You have no idea the patience that is invested in this site by those that run things and I have been the beneficiary for years.
I was looking at a bag of carrots. Some were the usual orange but others were purple and some were white and I was supposed to be charmed because of the word heirloom. I’ve written almost one hundred and forty recipes with an eye toward game time fun and trying to figure out how to shoehorn this into a thousand words about why you would want carrots to be your kickoff fare because I didn’t want to repeat myself and needed to come up with something new and original. (Saute pan, carrots chopped into about an inch or so pieces with brown sugar, thyme, and more butter than your doctor would recommend – but that’s an aside.) I felt like I lost the track.
Simple is the best. I have done so many of these things and at some point you start looking toward what’s new and offbeat when the preferred is right in front of you. The best is simple.
You may want to wow your guests or have that tailgate that has punters looking over their shoulder wondering what brilliance you have working on your grill, but what satisfies is a return to basics.
I can be exposed to all manner of creative options but on gameday I want a burger with salt.
It’s tempting to dig your fingers into the beef and massage Worcestershire or Dale’s or whatever, but all you need is salt. Generous course ground Kosher salt.
I’ve become a burger heretic in two ways.
The first is that I don’t believe in the perfect flip. So many adhere to the idea that burger chef should know his heat and ingredients so well that only one flip is required. I disagree.
After the initial sear on each side a burger should be flipped every thirty to forty-five seconds. The heat is doing its best to get to the center of the patty and every flip frustrates it, forces it to start again from the other side, and leaves you a much better prospect of hitting that just right medium rare.
Second, I’m moving away from grills. You can get wonderful smokiness from charcoal or wood chips but look at what is left in the pan when you pan sear. So much fat is lost to the fire on a grill and though the evidence is right there for you to wipe with a towel, in a pan that fat and flavor is basting the burger as it cooks.
Just a little salt and a decent bun is all you need. I like brioche, but suit to your tastes.
I love cooking and I love extravagant recipes that call for things you at best have heard about in passing, but when I took up this series seven years ago, I knew it was exercise in dancing around the obvious. Football calls for burgers. Y’all have been generous dance partners.
Weatherman58 was an early and consistent commenter and I looked to his posts as community building. Bocktean never failed to entertain and dietcokeaddict kept me honest. Everyone on the masthead… I could go on and on and I would still fall short of noting everyone that has entertained and challenged me here. This is a great place to be, but I’ve run my regularly scheduled course.
I still plan on pitching something every now and again to the editors and I can’t help myself from the occasional comment. I’ll see you around.
Go have a burger with salt and a decent bun.