Thursday, October 28, 2021

Burger plate recipe: A vintage dish with modern appeal

Eric Kim, New York Times

She was not your typical grandmother.

Granny Fern was Aunt Mame, a peace lover, a grandmother who would take you to a piano bar or teach you how to play blackjack. Her flamboyant personality matched the tumultuous energy of Pie ‘n Burger, a classy Pasadena, California restaurant that she took her grandson Michael Osborne to when he was a kid in the 1960s.

Now, decades later, Osborne owns the restaurant.

“For many, it’s like home,” he said of his 35-seat establishment.

One item on the menu, a plate of steak hamburger, has been served for as long as Osborne can remember. But this dish is something of an heirloom – more common on eatery menus decades ago – and can be hard to find these days.

In a Pie ‘n Burger, this is half a pound of premium ground beef that is turned into a patty and then cooked in a flat skillet. The plate includes salad and potato pancakes made with steamed potatoes and a toasted bun with butter. Visitors to Osborne treat the pie like a steak, eat it with a knife and fork, and add Worcestershire sauce, Heinz 57, or ketchup as a condiment.

Today’s Americans may ask: Why would anyone order this instead of a regular bun hamburger or even a steak?

“Sometimes at night people want something other than a sandwich or a hamburger,” Osborne explained, adding that a plate of burgers “is much more cost-effective to the consumer than a steak.”

Today Osborne sells far fewer hamburger steaks than the traditional hamburger for which his restaurant is known. But he recalls the heyday of the Atkins diet, when hamburgers were all the rage.

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