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Plain, pan-fried burger amazingly good

May 22nd, 2008 · 2 Comments · Healthy eating, local food

I went to the kitchen last night thinking I’d make myself a big, spring salad of spinach and I forget what else. Instead, I saw that in addition to all the good green spring stuff in my refrigerator I had some freshly thawed local, grass-fed and grass-finished ground beef from MJ Ranch. My plans changed.

The thing is, I’m not a big ground-beef eater, maybe because of decades of reading about the bad fat in ground beef or maybe because most of the meat recalls involve ground beef. Whatever the reason, I haven’t bought much ground beef in years, but Hilary Brown’s comment the other day about cooking regulations based on industrial beef’s hazards planted a seed in my brain. That seed sprouted as I reached for the spinach.

“Wait a minute,” I thought, “I could just cook a plain burger—I don’t need a bun—and make a smaller salad.”

And that’s what I did. I made a patty. I sprinkled salt and pepper in the bottom of an iron skillet and heated it up before dropping in the patty. It sizzled as I washed a handful of mesclun and a giant purple asparagus spear. That Purple Passion asparagus is quite tasty raw. I flipped the burger, let it cook another minute or two, and put it on my plate, medium-rare. (Score another one for the speed of homemade food.)

Plain hamburger patty

I took a bite, and a strange thing happened: I sighed with pleasure. Yes, I was delighted with my plain hamburger, and not just because I was hungry. It was delicious, moist, amazingly, um, beefy.

Another thing was odd about this burger. It barely left any fat in the pan. I’m still trying to figure this one out. I know this burger had fat; I could see it in the deep red raw meat. But it just didn’t amount to much in the cooking. Maybe that’s because the fat is different in grass-fed beef. And no water cooks out of it, as ordinarily happens with “regular” beef.

I can’t explain it. I just know it was good. Who knows? I may learn to love hamburgers again. If you think you want to try grass-fed beef, you can probably find a local source at

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2 Comments so far ↓

  • Steve and Seánan

    Grass-fed beef _is_ different. It also tastes better and is healthier for the planet and kindlier to the animals — including us.

    That burger would make us hungry at any time. We’re very curious about this giant purple asparagus, which we’ve never had.

    Like you, we’re trying to buy local goods, so until the stalks turn up on a nearby stand, we’re going to have to enjoy that asparagus vicariously. It’s hard to get hollandaise on vicarious asparagus. (Yes, we tried.)

  • Janet Majure

    I’m not sure which grower at my CSA does the Purple Passion, but I know that Pendleton’s Country Market a couple miles east of Lawrence sell some variety of purple asparagus both on their farm and at the market. If you come up this way, check it out!