Cheeseburger vs. 'Ground Meat on a Bun'


Burgers from White Diamond and Fran's Hamburgers. [Photographs: Nick Solares]

Does one of the burgers above fulfill the definition of "burger" more than the other? Texas Monthly executive editor and food writer Patricia Sharpe would say yes. In her a recap of Josh Ozersky's burger presentation at Whole Foods in Austin during the Texas Wine and Food Festival, she summarizes his tips for making his ideal burger: a small, thin, well salted, griddled patty cooked with chopped onions and onion-infused water, topped with a Kraft Single if so desired, and served on a plain white squishy bun (not toasted or buttered). The slider-style burger is based on Joe Soto's onion burger at White Diamond in Linden, New Jersey. Ozersky shares the recipe at and shows how to make it at Ozersky.TV.

But Sharpe didn't think the onion burger was a cheeseburger as much as "ground meat on a bun." She says:

But it's a cheeseburger without mayo, mustard, ketchup, onion, lettuce, tomato, pickles, or any of the things that most Texans, indeed most Americans, have come to identify with the concept "hamburger." We may fight like cats and dogs over what we slather on, but we all agree something is necessary. No way, says Ozersky, "His parting shot: "It is a total act of bad faith if you're talking about all the toppings. A hamburger is about the meat."

At AHT we wouldn't say a burger needs those standard toppings to be a burger. We love burgers with toppings and condiments, but if anything, sliders are the original American burger; White Castle was America's first burger chain. And let's not forget that AHT's founder Adam Kuban started this site not just out of a love for burgers, but specifically a love for sliders. While there is a point where ground meat on a bun is just that and not a burger (admittedly, we've also mentioned Maid-Rites on this site), we'd say the diminutive onion and cheese-topped version (we're down with processed American, by the way) Ozersky likes counts as a burger.

Do you prefer one type of burger over the other? Does it matter as long as the burger is made well? If you've never had a good slider before, Kenji's got a solution for that.

[via Eater Austin]