Food Network Magazine names America's Best Burgers
Not being a huge Food Network junkie I didn't bother to check out their new-ish magazine until their current Best Burgers issue hit the stands. (I was a little surprised FN decided to enter the crowded food mag market, but I suppose they are leveraging their brand wherever they can.) In any case, I was pretty impressed. The magazine is not just some FN celebrity chef love-fest (there's a little of that), but a comprehensive, well-designed publication with a lot of diverse and useful information (for some reason, I was really into the flavored ice ideas and the "Make It or Buy It" page, which detailed the pros and cons of various pre-made or homemade party platters...also, the q&a with the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile spawned a few jealous pangs, as I'd once applied for the job but only made it as far as a phone interview)
The issue's best feature is definitely 50 States, 50 Burgers:
When they say "We hit the road to find the one burger you absolutely have to try in every state," I'm pretty sure the editors didn't physically cross the country and taste every burger, but I think they did a much better job at sourcing local picks than I've seen from some other national mags. (That is to say they called local critics to get ideas, or at least I know they called me and a few others in Minnesota to get our thoughts.) In any case, I was proud to see the Vincent Burger represent Minnesota, for its contemporary gourmet take on our indigenous Jucy Lucy (though they spelled it Juicy--outsiders!).
I enjoyed reading about all the other burgers and was a bit disappointed to find that the only other ones I've ever tried are In-and-Out's Double Double, "animal style," chosen to represent California and the cheeseburger at Burger Joint in the Parker Meridien Hotel in New York. (Both great picks, btw.)
I don't know that I'll be in Connecticut anytime soon to try the steamed cheeseburger, but perhaps I can make it to Illinois for The Slayer, a bunless patty on a pile of fries, chili, andouille sausage, peppers, onion, and cheese, or Iowa for the Famous Garbage Burger, which has hourlong waits for hickory-smoked patties toppped with ham and sauerkraut. Next time I'm in Madison, I'm definitely hitting the Great Dane (Madison's best brewpub, so far as I know) for the Brat and Bacon Pretzel Burger: two patties (beef and brat), cheddar, stout-caramelized onions, bacon, pilsner mustard served on a soft pretzel bun. Or, as the mag dubbed it, "Wisconsin in sandwich form."