Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Skeen Burgers

This one is for Brigid, who has probably given up on my ever trying her recipe. Just had to wait on the leftover ham, my dear. Ham usually isn't a "left over" around me.

When I was growing up, the big burger delicacy in town was known as "Moose Burger"--not because it was made from moose meat, but because the restaurant that served it was the Big Moose. Imagine a Big Mac made with 2/3 of a pound of fresh ground meat, properly fresh lettuce, slices of Vidalia onion about 1/2" thick, crisp pickles, fresh buns and so on and so forth. I haven't eaten one in years and the Big Moose is only a memory, but I'm drooling....

Well, in the Next Town Over, they had their own burger claim to fame--the Skeen Burger. If I have the story correctly, the restaurant in question was the Morning Glory, and it was owned by, you guessed it, the Skeen family. As the Next Town Over was, like my town, dominated by furniture factories and textile mills, the day started early and ended early. Restaurants like the Big Moose and the Morning Glory existed to handle the breakfast and lunch crowds, and were closed and the staff gone home by 3:30.

I never experienced a real Skeen Burger at the Morning Glory--that restaurant had closed by the time I kinda-sorta returned home from some travels. The recipe, however, lived on locally. I guess a few family friends had begged it, and then one thing lead to another and it started getting passed around. Now, it can be widely found in area church cook books.

To make a Skeen Burger, start with 5 pounds of fresh ground chuck. The fresher the better, and make sure it has some fat in it--none of that 95-5 stuff. Crush enough Ritz Crackers to make 1 cup of cracker crumbs. Have on hand 1 cup of good apple sauce, 3 tsp. of Tabasco sauce, 5 tbsp of Worcester sauce (spring for the good stuff of your choice; leave the French's for the kiddies), 1 envelope of dry onion soup mix, 1/2 tsp garlic powder and salt if you wish--sea salt works best.

Mix it all up in whatever order you wish, in one big bowl using your hands. Machines destroy the texture of the meat. Pat out into generous burgers--we usually get 13-15 or so from this recipe. Be careful about getting them too thick as they tend to plump up as you grill them.

Yes, grill them--over charcoal. (LP grills--*shudder*). Be sure it is fairly hot, and sear the first side--some black does not hurt the taste--I think it enhances it. Flip them over and sear the other side. Flip again for 2-3 minutes, then flip for another 2-3. Use your turner to press them down on the grill and watch how much juice comes out. When it stops coming out in a stream, but the outside of the burgers are still moist, they're done. Cooked like this they are usually medium to medium well.

Get them off the grill, and then use the grill to toast the buns. Onion, tomato, lettuce, ketchup and whatever else you want on a burger, including chili (no beans--hot dog chili). Sweet tea to wash them down, although beer will do as well. (I usually have the beer while grilling to ward off dehydration induced by the hot grill. That's my story and I'm stickin' to it.) Chips if you wish, potato salad works well, and homemade ice cream for afters is just the thing.

Damn. I'm drooling again.


S Hodges said...

I played little league ball in 1960 in Thomasville, and loved the Skeen burgers at Morning Glory. I actually saw him cook it. I don't believe the onion soup ingredient was used. The taste wasn't in the burger but the slaw and other things. Always slaw. I can't see old bald headed Skeen using packets of onion soup mix. Nope. All these recipes are fake......Although tasty....just not a Skeen burger. There has never been in my life of 65 years a burger like the Skeen Burger from the Morning glory with the round bar and stools.

The Freeholder said...

You know, I can find a dozen places where folks say these recipes are fake, phony and so on. He wouldn't have used this, that ingredient didn't exist back then and so on.

Does it ever occur to anyone it isn't the ingredient list that's important? It's the taste of the finished product that you're after when you're trying to recreate a classic recipe. Jeeze, some people....

The Freeholder said...

I've deleted probably a half dozen comments on this post just like the one from Mr. Hodges, but I finally decided to let one through and address the issue. Because this day, of all fucking days, I can understand why Tam not only pulled the plug on The View From the Porch but pulled the entire thing down off the Internet. The amount of derp out there is getting so deep that it really makes you wonder why you even bother to howl into the wilderness any more.