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Cheeseburger, Cheeseburger!

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The cheeseburger is an iconic American food. Take a big handful of flattened ground beef, a bun split in two, with salt and pepper. Cook the meat on a grill or in a frying pan or broil it. Melt some cheese on the meat as it finishes cooking. Toast the buns with butter or oil or not. Condiments and garnishes are up to you. Put the cheesy meat on the bun and dress it up, then devour. Seems simple, right?

Hmm. Everyone has an opinion about what constitutes a great cheeseburger. The variables are infinite, depending on whom you ask. To me, the best ones are made with meat that is fairly rich, about 20% fat, and hand-formed. I like them best when cooked on a seasoned flat grill, so the edges get crispy and the interior stays juicy. I prefer plain old American cheese on mine, with grilled onions, dill pickle slices, and mustard. I want the buns to be soft, white bread, toasty and just big enough to contain the burger.

Credit Hugo Phan

Fancy burgers with creative toppings are great, but I love a classic. I posted a quick query on Facebook the other day and got over two hundred passionate responses. I’m excited to get my fix on in some new places. I will surely clog my arteries trying them all. Fun!

I just had a fabulous variation on the cheeseburger at The Annex Lounge, at 6305 East Harry. The Annex makes the Inside Out Burger, with buns turned over and crisped on the grill, two slices of American cheese, and a crispy-juicy handmade beef patty. It was so flavorful and naughty and the right kind of decadent greasy. The menu there is limited and it is no frills at all, but the burgers are delicious. It’s a small beer bar, so think casual.