Baseball, Burgers and the Bailout

Like just about everybody, I enjoy a good burger — with all the fixings.

But I think a minor league baseball team in Grand Rapids, Mich., has taken it a little too far. The West Michigan Whitecaps, a farm team of the Major League Detroit Tigers, are offering megasized burgers for $20 that are made up of five 1/3-pound patties of beef, five slices of cheese, about a cup of chili and liberal doses of salsa and corn chips — all on an 8-inch sesame bun. The burger is so big that it has to be served in an open-topped pizza box.

Called the Fifth Third burger, it takes its name from Fifth Third Ballpark, which is named after Fifth Third Bank, based in Cincinnati. Fifth Third is one of the banks that suffered severe financial losses because of the downturn in the housing market. It also has received $3.4 billion from the federal government to stay out of bankruptcy.

So, I guess you could call the Fifth Third burger the bailout burger.

In defense of the Whitecap management, they are billing it as a burger that would feed a family of four.

I’ll be heading down to the Twins Cities this weekend to take in a couple of Twins games in the Metrodome. I’m not aware of burgers that are for sale inside the Dome and never really have been tempted by the Dome Dogs. But I am a sucker for the popcorn, peanuts and Cracker Jacks.

For those of you who have to stay at home this weekend and watch the Twins on TV, here is a burger recipe that might be worth trying on the grill. It has plenty of fixings but has only 449 calories. And it doesn’t cost $20.

And in this era of buyouts and bailouts, I’d consider that a bargain.

Beef Burgers with Drambuie Onions
1¼-pound mix of well-chilled chunks of lean chuck steak and lean sirloin
1 teaspoon garlic powder
Favorite all-purpose seasoning
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 cups sliced onions
8 ounces cremini mushrooms, cleaned, sliced (optional)
1/3 cup Drambuie
4 ounces goat cheese
1½ tablespoons honey
¼ cup mix of fresh chopped herbs of choice (thyme, basil, oregano)
1 tablespoon chopped chives, optional
4 minipita pocket breads, 3 or 4 inches in diameter
Bibb or butter lettuce
8 thin zucchini ribbons
In a food processor fitted with the steel blade, place the beef chunks. Pulse the mixture to combine and coarsely grind the meat. Do not overprocess. Season the mixture with garlic powder, all-purpose seasoning and black pepper. Shape mixture into 4 patties about 5 ½ ounces each. Place on a platter and refrigerate while preparing the onions and mushrooms.
In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onions and saute until they begin to lightly brown. Add the mushrooms and continue sauteing until they are tender. Increase the heat slightly and add the Drambuie. Cook, deglazing the pan until the Drambuie has almost evaporated. Remove from heat. Cover to keep warm.
In a small bowl, mix together the goat cheese, honey, herbs and chives.
Preheat the grill to medium-high. Oil the grill grates. Grill the burgers about 6 minutes or until well-browned and slightly crusty. Turn and continue grilling another 6 minutes until the burgers are cooked through and the internal temperature in the center of the burgers is 160 degrees. Remove from the grill.
Slice the mini pitas in half horizontally and grill them a few minutes if desired.
On the bottom half of one pita, place a Bibb lettuce leaf. Place a patty on top. Top with zucchini ribbons and onion mixture. Spread about 2 tablespoons of the cheese mixture on the top half of pita and place on the burger.
Yield: Serves. 4.
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 449 calories (33 percent from fat), 16 grams fat (7 grams saturated), 37 grams carbohydrates, 38 grams protein, 345 milligrams sodium, 88 milligrams cholesterol, 113 milligrams calcium, 3 grams fiber.