The Best Burger

In the late 1970s, The Onlooker newspaper, published by my boss, Mike Jacobs, and his wife, Suezette Bieri, solicited readers to nominate their choice for best cheeseburger in North Dakota.

As I recall, it was a popular feature of the newspaper, which reported mostly on environmental, political and agricultural issues in the state.

I got to thinking about the contest after coming across an e-mail from the folks at the Food Network magazine about its June/July issue (on the newsstands Tuesday), which lists the best burger in all 50 states.  

"With the help of food critics across the country, the magazine searched for the most exciting, interesting, wacky or otherwise fabulous burger in every state and chose the one burger you absolutely have to try. Some of them are life-changing, some are just good old-fashioned classics, but one thing is for sure — all are delicious," the e-mail said.

In North Dakota, the double cheeseburger at the Hi-Ho South in Fargo (3051 25th St. S.W.) was named North Dakota’s top burger by the magazine. The magazine picked The Vincent Burger from Vincent-A Restaurant in Minneapolis (1100 Nicollet Ave.) as Minnesota’s best burger.

While I don’t have the recipe for either of those burgers (restaurants rarely share recipes anyway), here is one with a touch of Southwestern spice that might prove interesting. Also find a simple slaw recipe to round out a quick all-American dinner.

Southwestern Burgers
3 tablespoons rinsed and drained canned red kidney beans
½ pound lean ground sirloin
½ teaspoon ground cumin
1½ teaspoons chili powder
1½ tablespoons low-sodium, low-fat pasta sauce
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Vegetable oil spray
2 whole-grain hamburger rolls
1 small tomato, sliced
Several lettuce leaves
Mash the kidney beans in a bowl. By hand or with a fork, mix in the ground sirloin, cumin, chili powder, pasta sauce add salt and pepper to taste. Form into 2 patties about 4 inches in diameter. Heat a nonstick skillet on medium-high and spray with vegetable oil. Add the hamburgers and cook 5 minutes per side or until a meat thermometer reads 160 degrees.
While hamburgers cook, spray the inside of the rolls with vegetable oil spray and place in a toaster oven or under a broiler for 1 to 2 minutes or until golden. Place hamburger on the roll and top with tomato slices and lettuce.
Yield: Serves 2.
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 352 calories (23 percent from fat), 8.9 grams fat (4.3 grams saturated), 89 milligrams cholesterol, 36.7 grams protein, 5 grams carbohydrates, 0.1 grams fiber, 105 milligrams sodium.
Broccoli Slaw
1 tablespoon reduced-fat mayonnaise
2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 cups precut broccoli slaw mix
1 cup frozen corn kernels
¼ cup mild salsa
Mix mayonnaise, vinegar and sugar in a medium bowl. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add broccoli slaw mix, corn and salsa. Toss well. Add more salt and pepper if needed.
Yield: Serves 2.
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 143 calories (19 percent from fat), 3 grams fat (0.5 grams saturated), 3 milligrams cholesterol, 5.9 grams protein, 28.2 grams carbohydrates, 3.9 grams fiber, 275 milligrams sodium.