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The Perfect California Hamburger

This recipe comes from Marion Cunningham's "The Supper Book." Cunningham is strict about this burger -- "You cannot allow yourself any creative license" -- and says mustard or ketchup may be added "only if you must." Her recipe comes from Bob Wian, who founded the Bob's Big Boy restaurant chain. She writes, "I guarantee that if you make this hamburger once, you will never fall back into making or eating those gourmet beef sandwiches called hamburgers."

1 sturdy, fresh, tender hamburger bun
3 to 4 tablespoons mayonnaise
1/4 cup finely chopped onion

Vegetable oil
1/4 to 1/3 pound fresh ground beef, with 1/3 fat
Salt and pepper to taste
1/3 cup finely chopped clean, crisp iceberg lettuce
2 to 3 tablespoons sweet relish
Cheese (only mild Cheddar, please)

Slice the hamburger bun in half, and stir the mayo and onion together. Spread this mixture on the bottom half of the bun.

Heat a skillet and film the bottom with a little vegetable oil. Lightly form the meat into a patty, and put it into the hot skillet. Salt and pepper the top liberally. Fry for 2 or 3 minutes, never pressing down on the burger -- this will only dry the meat and make it tough.

Turn the burger over and salt and pepper it again. Fry until cooked to your liking. Put the patty on the onion and mayonnaise, and spread the other half of the bun with relish or whatever additional condiments you may be using. If you are using cheese, place it on top of the warm burger. Spread lettuce over the top, put the bun together, and enjoy.

Makes 1 perfect hamburger.

Sunday, June 11, 2000

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