The Howie Burger

Show me a person who doesn’t like a burger cooked on the grill, and I’ll show you a vegetarian. Let’s face, anyone who eats meat would find it hard to turn down a nicely formed patty on a fresh bun that came from the backyard barbecue.

But what constitutes a good burger?

The Los Angeles Times Test Kitchen put that question to its readers recently for the second year in a row in its Battle of the Burgers contest. When all was said and done, food editors and staff sampled 20 recipes from more than 140 that were submitted from all over the country and were chosen by an online nationwide vote.

“It was tough, but after days of testing, exhaustive judging (and maybe a little post-burger napping), we came up with five favorites,” said Noelle Carter of the Times food staff.

Here is one them, The Howie Burger, which was submitted by Paul Lindsay of Pasadena, Calif. Lindsay said, “My Uncle Howie … had a great love of Dijon mustard and onions. So I took it a step further.”

The Howie Burger
4 8-ounce ground beef patties
8 slices Gruyere cheese
2 cups Howie red onions, or to taste (recipe follows)
Scant ¾ cup Dijonnaise, or to taste (recipe follows)
4 hamburger buns or English muffins
4 cups shredded iceberg lettuce
1 pound red onions
1 quart red wine vinegar
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
Cut the red onions into one-eighth-inch-thick slices. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the red wine vinegar, sugar, salt and pepper, making sure everything is dissolved
In a medium-sized heavy-bottomed pot, combine the onions and vinegar mixture. Cook over high heat, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is reduced by half and the onions are softened, light pink to purple in color and slightly translucent, about 30 minutes. Pour the mixture into a shallow glass baking dish and cool before using.
Yield: 2 cups.
1 tablespoon light brown sugar
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
¼ cup heavy cream
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
½ cup Dijon mustard
2 cups mayonnaise
In a medium bowl, whisk together the light brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, heavy cream and ground black pepper. Mix in the Dijon mustard and mayonnaise.
Yield: 2 2/3 cups.
Note: This is more than is needed for the remainder of the recipe. The Dijonnaise will keep, covered and refrigerated, up to 1 week.
Heat a grill over medium-high heat until hot. Grill the burgers to desired doneness, about 2 to 4 minutes on each side for medium.
Just before pulling the burgers off the grill, top each patty with one-half cup Howie onions. Place 2 slices Gruyere over the onions and continue cooking until the cheese is fully melted. Remove and set aside in a warm place.
Toast the buns on the grill, and slather the top half of each with a scant 3 tablespoons Dijonnaise. Place about 1 cup shredded lettuce on the bottom of each toasted bun, place the burger on top and then cover with the top of the bun. Serve immediately.
Yield: Serves 4.
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 1,103 calories, 66 grams protein, 55 grams carbohydrates, 4 grams fiber, 64 grams fat (22 grams saturated), 224 milligrams cholesterol, 26 grams sugar, 1,501 milligrams sodium.