By some miracle, my girlfriend and I have recently moved into a beautiful, spacious, freshly painted apartment with a backyard, a washer/dryer, and a dishwasher: three luxuries that most New Yorkers offer up onto the pyre of compromise very early on. It’s simply assumed: you won’t have those things. You live in the city because the people that live here are interesting, and there are opportunities, and it’s constantly stimulating. And to make it work you give up things, like the ability to own a car, access to basic household appliances, and room to breathe. In New York, routine things become a hassle, like when buying an air conditioner you have to borrow a car or hope a cab drives by J & R when you come out the door. It’s the balance of these two concepts—the hassle and the elation of New York—that convinces people to stay or leave. Eventually, the hassle might win, and you move away.
In Brooklyn the hassle is lighter—there’s room, people are nicer, there’s potential for a good deal. We got lucky and found a family who owns a brownstone in the Boerum Hill section of Brooklyn, who were renting the first floor apartment. They asked us to choose colors for the walls. The above picture is of the roses that began blooming yesterday outside our kitchen window. They have two kids, a dog, and a beautifully maintained backyard (we share it). They’re a band.
All this to say that this year we were able to celebrate Memorial Day in proper style: with a bunch of friends and a grill. We made the lime zest potato salad, Nick concocted an incredibly good Sangria, we stood around rolling up newspaper trying to get the coals lit. All this probably sounds pretty normal for most people. But when you’re deprived of these basic pleasures and they’re suddenly returned to you, you’ll understand.
There’s always the question of what to do with all the leftover food after a barbecue, not to mention the fridge door full of beer. I’ve been eating potato and pasta salad steadily all week. But with a few extra burger patties lying around, I was looking for a culinary adventure. Enter the “Aussie” burger.
My girlfriend Elin clued me in to this phenomenon. When she was studying in England and hung out with people from South Africa to Australia, there were a few culinary tricks she learned. There was the British Lasagna. Once we made proper bangers and mash, which someday will get posted to this blog. This time around, it was a modification of the American hamburger tradition that her Australian friends taught her—which involves, in various permutations, sliced beets, fried egg, bacon, avocado, and sometimes pineapple.
Perhaps you’re excusing yourself politely after hearing that list. I, too, was skeptical. But, minus the pineapple, this is actually quite worth trying the next time you’re making burgers. Especially because you can now buy beets that are prepared and shrink-wrapped, saving you from having to choose between roasting fresh beets (time-consuming) and pickled in jars (an awful memory from childhood I’d never like to revisit). Those pickled varieties are, I think, why most people don’t like beets. But fresh beets or the shrink-wrapped kind are earthy, meaty, and very sweet. With a well-salted hamburger they are a quite an inspired combination.
Admittedly, this is quite a cholesterol fest, especially when the soft
yolk on the egg breaks and drips all over everything. Keep in mind
that with all these condiments, you should go for a rather thin burger
patty, or else you won’t be able to get your hands around the thing (I
made this mistake). There’s much discussion about what an Aussie
burger really is, but across the board it’s agreed that you need sliced
beets and a fried egg.
The Aussie Burger
¼ cup chopped parsley
2 cloves minced garlic
Sliced fresh beets (look for the shrink-wrapped kind—not pickled)
2 fried eggs, yolk still soft.
½ avocado, sliced.
2 slices American cheese
2 slices bacon (optional)
Other condiments as desired (sliced tomato, pickles, etc.)
Salt and pepper
Not much to this recipe, really. Mix the parsley, garlic, and
salt/pepper with the beef. Try to do a minimal amount of mixing the
meat, as it can get tough. Grill the hamburgers to medium-rare, and
start frying the egg after you flip them. Top with condiments, and