I’ll gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today.” – J. Wellington Wimpy
Did a Texan invent the most famous sandwich of all?
It’s hard to imagine American — or even Texan — culinary culture without the hamburger. As with all iconic foods, claims of invention abound. Texas has a particularly strong case with an Athens, Texas, native known as Uncle Fletcher Davis. According to legend, Davis put a fried ground beef patty with mustard and Bermuda onion between two slices of bread at his lunch counter in the 1880s. Davis then went on to serve his invention at the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair, and, as they say, the rest was history.
But there are others who have a beef with the Davis story.
“No one knows who made the first ‘hamburger,’ but there are many things that we do know,” according to seriouseats.com. “Hamburg(h) beef” — named after the city of Hamburg, Germany, where many German immigrants boarded ship for America — was well known in the first half of the 19th century. In the 1870s, “hamburger steak” was a popular dish throughout America.”
The Caterer and Household Magazine of October 1883 described a recipe for “Broiled Hamburg Steaks,” adding: “This mixture of meat is also often spread upon slices of bread, with butter in which a spoonful of dry mustard has been mixed, and used as a sandwich.”
Whoever the inventor, the hamburger is beloved, enduring and very Texan.
Taste of Texas Hamburger
1½ pounds ground chuck, 80 percent lean
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1½ teaspoons seasoning salt
1 teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
4 hamburger buns
Optional: 4 slices of cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion, pickles, ketchup, mustard, mayonnaise or other condiments
Preheat grill or griddle to 375 F (medium-high).
In a large bowl, add the beef and your next 4 ingredients. Use your hands to mix until combined.
Divide the meat mixture into fourths. Take ¼ of the meat mixture and use your hands and press into the shape of a patty, ¾-inch thick. Make an indentation in the middle of the patty to prevent bulging as it cooks.
Place on grill or griddle. Cook for 4 to 5 minutes per side until the burgers have reached desired doneness — about 4 minutes per side for medium well.
If adding cheese, place on the patty 1 minute before taking off the grill.
Phil Newton is a Galveston baker/cook. He’s the owner/operator of Stiglich Corner with partner Cindy Roberts.