My dad was called “Bruen” all his life. It was his middle name–an old name in our family, and I’ve enjoyed researching it–but that’s not my topic today.
Today we’ll talk about what I have dubbed Bruen Burgers. Hamburgers à la Dad. (It’s also a pun: Brew ‘n Burgers, get it? Brew is optional. I had seltzer.)
Dad was a hamburger whisperer, an encourager and massager of ground beef. He would painstakingly knead and shape the patties till they were perfectly shaped and ready for cooking. Not for him the strands of intact ground chuck visible at first bite. What a bore.
Here is a slightly updated recipe for Bruen Burgers, faithful to my late father’s taste. Remember that ground beef is supposed to be cooked thoroughly, for your safety.
Lean ground beef
Badía Sazón Completa™ (Dad would have approved–or a little salt)
ground black pepper
dash Worcestershire sauce (optional; Dad loved it)
dry parsley flakes (a quarter cup or so per pound)
Before lighting fire: On a cutting board or in a bowl, mix ingredients and knead till more or less even. Shape into immaculately round patties. Put on plate, cover and refrigerate.
Light fire carefully (of course! And practice safety–really–I just saw a “professional” squirting fluid into a live fire–stupid as hell.)
When coals are ready, start the burgers. Again, it’s recommended to cook thoroughly. Flip at least once per side, try to keep from going beyond the grill-mark phase. Put to a cool side of the fire to finish. Pro tip: let them sit long enough to come off the grill when gently lifted by spatula–it’s depressing to see cremated chunks of hamburger sticking to the grill. A hot fire tends to prevent sticking. (Ditto refrigeration!)
The picture also shows some unshucked ears of classic bicolor corn being roasted. As you can see, it is hard to moderate the heat on this cheap drugstore-marketed kettle.
Again: fire safety. Keep starter fluid away, and do not add any after fire is lit. Don’t get drunk. Don’t leave the fire unattended. Cover the grill right after cooking. The coals will quickly die and are reusable.
Enjoy the burgers on a toasted bun with any toppings you like. Dad would approve of capers and onions, with a dollop of mayonnaise. Bruen showed his zest for life in small things, such as the way he could demolish a really good hamburger. His wit and high energy in social situations were equally zesty.
So here’s the lesson from dad: When you cook, remember that life’s the best sauce.