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Go Meditteranean for National Hamburger Month

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Man-Food Watch™ is a series of recipes for armchair tailgaters who want to raise their game when it comes TV sports and eating. Impress the guys with food that’s hearty, flavorful, easy to make and usually inexpensive.

Although not much about the hamburger suggests the sunny shores of the Mediterranean, much about Greater Jacksonville does.

Accordingly, there should be a local take on the hamburger that reflects our love of burgers and our Mediterranean flair.

Welcome to National Hamburger Month.

The hamburger, an American art form

Named for Hamburg, Germany, from whence many folk immigrated to America, the hamburger sandwich was actually first created in 1900 in the United States in by Louis Lassen, owner of Louis' Lunch in New Haven, Conn.

Crude in early iterations, early burgers were just slapped between two slices of bread.

Not real sexy, no.

Now there are any number of ways to dress up a burger.

So what makes food Meditteranean?

The heart of the Meditteranean diet is fresh fruits and vegetables to accompany meats and cheeses, and some of the best produce in Florida is just now coming into season.

Dark leafy greens like spinach and basil make a nice change for plain old lettuce, just as red onions add something extra that white and yellow onions just don’t have.

Of course, there’s fresh garlic and sea salt.

Need a break from mayo?

Try some hummus instead. Made from chick peas, sesame, lemon and garlic, hummus is a zesty, high-protein alternative that’s easy to make at home.

And roma tomatoes, also called plum tomatoes, add tooth and flavor to even the most basic burger.

GR8RJax™ Cheeseburgers

So if forced to shake up your burger routine and go Meditteranean, what would you do?

Here’s Your Examiner’s take on the humble cheeseburger:

Ingredients

  • Equal parts ground fresh lamb, fresh pork and beef
  • 1 egg
  • 1 lb. gorgonzola cheese
  • Sweet red Italian onion, some minced, some sliced
  • Garlic, minced
  • Extra virgin olive olive
  • Sea salt
  • Fresh cracked black pepper
  • Paprika
  • Lemon juice, fresh
  • Crushed red pepper flakes
  • Spinach, basil and/or romaine lettuce, fresh and shredded
  • Roma tomatoes, sliced

Cooking Instructions

  1. In a metal bowl, mix together ground meat, salt, pepper, pepper flakes and paprika to taste and about a teaspoon of olive oil and lemon juice per pound. Set aside.
  2. In a skillet, heat a couple of tablespoons of olive oil and sauté minced onion, garlic for 3-5 minutes, then set aside. (For an even more intense flavor, leave the onion and garlic raw.)
  3. Crack the egg in a cup or sauce and scramble with a fork.
  4. Use your fist to make a dent in the meat, then pour in the egg and work it through the meat very thoroughly.
  5. Add the sautéed vegetables and work through the meat again.
  6. Divide meat evenly into balls.
  7. Use your thumb to make a hole in one of the balls, spoon in gorgonzola, then plug the hole with meat and very gently make your hamburger patty.
  8. Once you’ve made all your patties, you can either grill or pan fry the burgers to your taste.

Be very careful to let the patties cool a bit before you eat. The cheese inside is very, very hot.

For a change of pace, serve your Mediterranean burgers on crostini instead of plain old hamburger rolls.

Garnish with fresh spinach and basil, sliced onion, mayo and a mild mustard like Grey Poupon® Dijon mustard.

Ciao.

©2014 All rights reserved.

OFFICIAL BIO: K Truitt is a second-generation, native Floridian born in Jacksonville. Truitt worked in public higher education for 25 years and knows newspaper publishing, printing and graphic design. Contact:kt.4examiner@yahoo.com

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