Eating a hamburger was always a big treat when I was a kid because my parents never wanted to spend money on fast food. They always said it was a waste of money when we could just eat at home. No kid wants to hear this and that’s what started my obsession with eating burgers every time I could get away with it.
I remember that the only way my mom could get me to go with her downtown to run some kind of errand was if she promised me a burger after we were done. The place of choice was always Hamburguesas del Oeste located close to Avenida Oriental in Medellín. I loved that they had a sauces and toppings station and I would pile on the cole slaw and sweet pickles on top of my burger. Fast forward to 20 years later when I went with my husband and I was extremely disappointed at how awful the burgers were. They had a processed meat flavor and sadly, the memory I had of those delicious burgers was immediately erased after a few bites.
Last December, when we visited Medellín again, we finally had a few great burgers made with what I assume was real beef. The best one I had was from Hamburguesas El Corral located in the Santafé mall in the El Poblado neighborhood. Oh my gosh, they were deeelicious! There were also a couple of other burger restaurants I saw that I really wanted to try but didn’t have time to. One of them had a “Montañera” burger came with ¼ lb of beef, tomato, mozzarella cheese and the best part… Colombian beans and chicharrones (fried pork belly). *Drool!*
In my very humble opinion, the best burgers I have ever had are in Colombia. Colombians are well known for mixing and adding all kinds of toppings to their burgers and hot dogs, which I can imagine it may sound a bit odd, but it really takes them to a whole new level.
- 1½ lb ground beef chuck (80% lean & 20% fat)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 4 hamburger buns
- Fast Food sauces of your choice ( garlic mayo, pink Sauce, pineapple sauce & green sauce, BBQ ketchup, pineapple mayo)
- Cheese slices (if making cheeseburgers, about 1-2 slices per burger)
- Lettuce (1-2 leaves per burger)
- Tomato slices (1-2 per burger)
- Cooked bacon strips (1-2 per burger)
- Crushed potato chips or matchstick French fries (about a handful per burger)
- Divide the ground beef into 4 equal portions. Shape each portion into a ball and flatten it with the palms of your hand to make a burger patty of about 4-5 inches (10 – 13 cm) wide. Make a 2 inch (5 cm) indentation in the center of each patty with your thumbs. This will prevent them from shrinking and bulging in the middle while cooking. Season really well with salt and pepper.
- Grill on medium high heat for about 3-5 minutes per side. You can also cook them on a nonstick pan or skillet on the stove over medium high heat. During the last minute of cooking you can place the hamburger buns on the top rack of the grill to warm them up. If you want to make them into cheeseburgers, at this point you can also place a slice of cheese on each burger patty and close the lid of the grill to let the heat melt the cheese.
- You can use the fast food sauces of your choice to assemble your burgers. Here’s a suggestion to get you started: Spread some BBQ ketchup on the bottom bun, followed by 1-2 leaves of lettuce, 1-2 slices of tomatoes, one cooked burger patty and 1-2 slices of bacon. You can also add some pineapple mayonnaise, place a handful of crushed potato chips or matchstick French fries on top, add pineapple sauce and finish the the top bun.