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When Le Pigeon first opened, they only served five of their signature burgers each evening.
The Daily Meal recently published our 101 Best Burgers in America for 2014, and in order to compile our ranking, we assembled a list of nearly 200 burgers from all across the country, from Spruce Pine, North Carolina to Hillsboro, Oregon. We then divided these burgers by region, and compiled a survey that was taken by a panel of 50 noted food writers, journalists, bloggers, and culinary authorities from across the country, asking them to vote for their favorites; limited, of course, to the ones that they’d tried. We tallied the results, and published the 101 stellar American burgers with the most votes.
When Gabriel Rucker first opened Le Pigeon in 2006, he cruelly only served five of the establishment’s namesake burgers each night. Today, thankfully, the burger can be purchased at all times, and what a burger it is: A thick, square patty of beef from a local farm is seasoned with salt and pepper, grilled, topped with sharp Tillamook white Cheddar, an iceberg lettuce slaw, thick slices of grilled pickled onions, mayo, mustard, and housemade ketchup, all piled atop a ciabatta bun. The Le Pigeon snagged the impressively high #15 spot on our list, beating out the only other Portland burger on our list, The Special at Stanich's Tavern, which was #63.
Kate Kolenda is the Restaurant/City Guide Editor at The Daily Meal. Follow her on Twitter @BeefWerky and @theconversant.
10 best burgers in the US, according to America's top food critics
When a meat craving hits, few foods are more satisfying than a juicy burger — especially when someone else cooks it. Sure, there are plenty of great burger recipes to make at home, but if you really want to treat yourself, try a burger that was created by a chef who has perfected the all-American sandwich.
Since there are so many spots for a burger in every city, TODAY Food asked the country's top restaurant critics and editors to name their favorites.
Here are the 10 best burgers in the U.S., according to people who taste them for a living.
Tips for how to cook frozen burgers.
Eat This, Not That!
Before we see the winners and the losers, we wanted to share some tips on how to cook frozen burgers. After preparing five different brands of frozen hamburger patties, we have a few tips to share when it comes to cooking the best meat.
- Cook from frozen. Keep that meat in the freezer! Do as most instructions advise, and cook the patties from frozen. When they have time to warm up, the outside of the patty thaws and gets mushy, and you won't get a good sear. Plus, the patty will cook unevenly since the middle of the burger is still frozen solid.
- Preheat your (preferably cast-iron) pan. Turn your stove to medium, and get that pan at an even heat so that when you throw your frozen burger on there it sizzles.
- Leave it be. As for how long to cook frozen hamburger patties, you're going to base the cooking time on sight rather than a specific time. (That being said, you're looking at around 10-12 minutes cook time per frozen patty.) Let the burger get a nice even sear on the first side—don't poke it, prod it, or press it. Once natural beef juices start to appear on the top of the patty, that's your sign to give it a flip.
- Use a meat thermometer. You're cooking raw beef from frozen. Sometimes you're not going to get it right. To avoid a frozen hockey puck of a patty, use a meat thermometer to test the inside. It should register a minimum of 160 degrees Fahrenheit for medium doneness (and for food safety).
- Use an air fryer. Yes, the air fryer really can do it all. Add your frozen hamburgers in a single layer to the air fryer basket. Then, all you have to do is cook on 375 degrees Fahrenheit for 20 minutes and flip halfway through cooking time.
- Use the broiler. If you're wondering how to cook frozen burgers in the oven, the answer is all in the broiler. Preheat the broiler to high. Place your frozen patties on a tray about four inches from the heat source. Broil for five to six minutes per side, or 10-12 minutes total.
- The grill method: Yes, burgers and grills go together like milk and cookies, but the same can't really be said for frozen burgers. The uneven heat of a charcoal grill can result in charred outsides and raw insides. Your best bet is a gas grill. Bring the grill up to a medium 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Cook the patties for six to seven minutes each side.
Note: We prepared our five patties using the pan method described above and they came out perfect!
Is this Best Burger Sauce Recipe the same thing as Thousand Island Dressing?
Pretty much! That’s something McDonald’s did right back in the day with the creation of their “special sauce.” That special sauce turned out to be very similar to Thousand Island Salad Dressing, and it turns out to be a delicious addition to hamburgers! I don’t keep Thousand Island Salad Dressing in my refrigerator, so it’s nice to have this recipe to whip it up for burgers when I’m grilling.
The Penguin was torn down several years ago to make room for a gas station conglomerate, but my Penguin Burgers’ special sauce recipe is a nod to what those burgers were all about.
The full recipe for the actual Penguin “Burgers” is in my cookbook, but I’m sharing the special sauce with you today so you can add it to your own burgers!
You may want to add the Best Burger Sauce to my Turkey Garden Burgers or these Blue Cheese Burgers. It’s such a great addition to a burger! And be sure to serve your burgers with either my Old Fashioned Macaroni Salad or my favorite All American Potato Salad.
Ann Marie Langrehr/Eat This, Not That!
The coworker who tried all of these burgers with me said that the cheeseburger tasted like it had more cheese than the McDouble, which put it higher on the list. A third person said that they liked the contrast between the sharp cheese and the drier bun in McDonald's classic budget offering.
Still, this is a very thin patty, and there aren't toppings besides the pickle, ketchup, and diced onions.
Food trucks push the limits
When it comes to the success of food trucks, often the crazier the concept is, the longer the line will be. Along with a catchy name, that means coming up with a unique menu to get people talking. These food trucks have pulled no punches when it comes to adding a little something different to their menus. We&rsquore not so sure about some of these options, but as the saying goes, don&rsquot knock it until you&rsquove tried it. And who knows&hellip maybe peanut butter, jelly, bacon and hot sauce really does taste great on a burger!
Check out the 10 best cities to get street food >>
First things first &mdash when discussing crazy food truck eats, the Douche Burger from 666 Burger in New York has to be at the top of the list. This burger, described as &ldquobeing full of rich people stuff&rdquo, includes a Kobe beef patty topped with aged Gruyere cheese melted in champagne steam, then loaded with caviar, foie gras, lobster, truffles, gold leaf and more. To really put the icing on the cake, (er, burger?), the whole thing is wrapped in three one hundred dollar bills. The Douche Burger can be yours for the low price of $666. And no, we&rsquore not kidding.
Several of the burgers from Grill &lsquoEm All in the Los Angeles area deserve a mention here, but the Dee Snider burger tops the list. Topped with peanut butter, jelly, bacon and Sriracha sauce, this 7-ounce burger could almost serve as breakfast. Is this a winning combination that we&rsquove all been missing out on? According to reviews of the Dee Snider, it tastes a lot better than it sounds. Another brow-raising burger from the Grill &lsquoEm All menu is the Witte burger, topped with cream cheese, deep fried bacon, beer, Sriracha onions and malt vinegar aioli. Did someone say deep fried bacon?
Check out these top 10 wildest burger ingredients >>
Gone are the days when doughnuts were best eaten with a hot cup of joe, simply coated in glaze or filled with jelly. Doughnuts are now being topped with just about anything you can think of, including savory cuisine.
At Gourdough&rsquos Big. Fat. Donuts. in Austin, choices like Boss Hog, Porkey&rsquos or Slow Burn probably pair better with a mug of beer than a cup of coffee. Although we&rsquore no strangers to bacon on doughnuts, the Porkey&rsquos doughnut kicks things up a notch with Canadian bacon, cream cheese and jalapeño jelly. Keeping with the pork theme, the Boss Hog doughnut comes topped with pulled pork and potato salad drizzled with honey barbecue sauce. For a vegetarian option, try the Slow Burn doughnut with cream cheese and habanero pepper jelly, which seems mild in comparison to the others, even if it is fiery hot.
How about a sandwich made with doughnut buns? That&rsquos exactly what you&rsquoll get at Dough Truck in San Francisco, which serves all its &ldquodough sandwiches&rdquo on freshly baked glazed doughnuts. Their Chicken & Donut sandwich is billed as the new chicken and waffles, which we admit is a pretty tasty combination. Can doughnuts upstage the waffle?
Craving doughnuts? Make homemade chocolate doughnuts >>
European street food
If you&rsquore in the mood for street food, head to Eurotrash in Portland, where they serve the &ldquotastiest, trashiest&rdquo European street food with an American spin. If listed separately, the ingredients of their sandwiches probably wouldn&rsquot sound too unusual, but when put together they form a unique blend of textures and flavors. For instance, their Squid Fan sandwich combines fried, curried squid and spicy curry slaw on a toasted French baguette, but it packs quite a punch. Their Fishy Chips dish might sound pretty standard, except instead of cod or halibut, you get breaded and fried Spanish anchovies sprinkled with lemon and salt. And since this isn&rsquot California, foie gras fans take note &mdash you can get an order of foie gras atop a pile of Nah-Nah Chips, thinly sliced potatoes fried and tossed in garlic aioli (Eurotrash&rsquos version of fries).
Read more about the California foie gras ban >>
What&rsquos the craziest item you&rsquove seen on a food truck menu? Share in the comments below!
10 Of Rachael's Best Burgers EVER
It's no secret that we have TONS of mouthwatering burger recipes thanks to Rach. (She even hosts not one, but two, Burger Bash events each year &mdash one in South Beach, which is on Friday, February 21, and one in New York City each fall!)
But these 10 burger recipes &mdash including Chili Burgers, Apple-Dijon Turkey Cheeseburgers and Burgers With Drunken Red Onion Jam &mdash have stolen your hearts.
Without further ado, we present to you our top 10 most popular burger recipes of all time.
Rach uses fresh herbs and spices to give her own salisbury steaks flavor so rich it's worth it to eat 'em up with a knife and fork.
The salt-and-vinegar fries balance out the sweet onion-topped burgers perfectly.
A classic all-beef burger gets the over-the-top treatment with Rach's red onion jam made with red wine and a slew of tasty toppings.
A spice-laden burger gets topped with a green tomato chutney and a helping of pure Canadian comfort food.
A delish combo of sautéed apples and sharp cheddar make this burger the perfect marriage of sweet and savory.
Beef patties seasoned with smoked sweet paprika get topped with Rach's special sauce&mdasha blend of ketchup, relish, sour cream and chipotle PLUS potato chips.
Serve with oven-baked steak fries and steak sauce or horseradish sour cream and chive sauce for dipping.
Breaded mushroom caps add a crisp layer to Rach's Portabella Parm Burgers.
This recipe is all about the toppings: a quick chili sauce and sweet-tangy red slaw.
The top 10 classic burgers in the Portland area
View full size Brent Wojahn/The Oregonian The Portland area's best classic burger is found at Washington County's Helvetia Tavern.
In close-in Portland, the bistro burger reigns supreme: jaw-aching creations amped up with pork belly or foie gras and stabbed through the heart with a knife as if the stability of their contents depended on it (and it probably does).
But the hamburger we crave doesn't resemble these at all. What we want is the classic, a grilled patty, melted cheese and fresh veggies on a toasted bun.
All across Oregon, from tiny trailers next to busy roads to hidden restaurants in downtown office buildings, burger joints selling quality versions of the classic burger are alive and well. Many of these roadhouses, taverns and former drive-ins have been there for decades. Others are new, but have a throwback look.
So what is a Smashburger?
It's a super-thin burger cooked on a griddle with lots of flavor from the browned bits that develop during cooking. Those bits form a delicious and flavorful crust with a wonderful texture.
How do I cook a Smashburger on the Blackstone Griddle?
There's no right or wrong way to cook a smash burger on the Blackstone griddle.
After cooking dozens of them, I have found the best method includes using parchment paper, a bacon press, and a sturdy spatula.
Typically, I will make four burgers per pound of beef. But that's just what works best at my place.
Kenji from Serious Eats uses about 2oz of beef per burger and double stacks them.
Although I appreciate and respect his method I often use a larger bun than he does and like the burger to still hang over the edge. To me, that extra meat is almost like a tiny appetizer before the main bite when eating the burger.
The Serious Eats method uses a combination of both ground chuck and brisket for their burgers. Brisket-chuck burgers are phenomenal, but that blend of meat isn't always easy for me to come by.
Believe it or not, one of the best places I have found brisket burgers consistently is from WalMart. These brisket burgers make a wonderful smash burger on the griddle but I find they need to sit about 30 seconds longer than normal on the griddle before smashing.
Burger being smashed under parchment paper
If I'm not using a brisket burger blend, I use an 80:20, or even a 75:25 meat to fat ratio whenever possible.
Use freshly ground beef over previously frozen whenever you can to make the burgers even more delicious.
Why do they call it a smash burger?
Popularized from the restaurant chain called Smashburger, the name is derived from the method of pressing or smashing meat onto a hot griddle.
How hot should the griddle be for cooking smash burgers?
Rumor has it that the griddle used at the popular burger chain known for these burgers cooks at a temperature of 385°F.
What toppings go on the burger?
Burgers are a blank canvas.
Most enjoy at least some toppings on burgers and the most common would be lettuce, tomato, and onion.
I find that the thickness of the tomato and onion can actually change the flavor of the burger.
Slicing the tomato becomes very important. Too thick of a slice and the tomato adds more cold moisture than necessary which throws off the meat to topping ratio.
The same can be said for the onions. If the onion slice is too thick, its flavor can be overwhelming. But if you get the slices to the correct thickness it actually complements the burger quite well and accentuates how delicious the dish is.
To achieve the perfect thickness of onion and tomato slices, it's important to use a very sharp knife. I keep my favorite slicing knife sharp with the WorkSharp E2 using its automated sharpening cycle. If the knife needs a slight touch up I will use a ceramic honing rod and bring the edge back quickly.
For the tomato, I try and cut round slices slightly thinner than the thickness of a pencil. The onion gets sliced to about half that thickness.
What do you serve with one of these burgers?
If you're lucky enough to have the Blackstone Air Fryer Griddle Combo then there are so many options for making fries, tater tots, and onion rings.
I have shared my opinion about whether the Air Fryer Griddle Combo is really worth it after using it dozens of times.
Lately, I have been really enjoying making this spicy-sweet street corn with bacon and jalapeno as a delicious side dish for burgers.