Originally posted by ohman
Steamed hamburger? Whats that all about? I am in Worcester so I will have to check this out.
Seein' as how you asked, I remember a time when Meriden CT may have been the only place in the world you could get a steamed cheeseburger, typically at one or another small diner or hole-in-the-wall. Each place that offered them was pretty much the same in that the steam cabinets -- what few there were -- had been all fabricated by the same local guy. However, I was quite surprised to discover recently that they're now available, in home and commercial sizes, at http://www.steamcheeseburgerchest.com/.
The steam cabinet, or chest, has tiers of little metal trays that slide in and out over an underlying pan of water simmering at a soft boil. The whole affair sits either on a spare burner or in a back corner of the grill. Some of the rectangular trays are packed with a high quality ground beef while others are filled with a high quality New England cheddar.
When steamed, the burger is slipped out onto a what was variously called a hard or kaiser roll in that area. The melted cheddar was them pushed out of its tray onto the meat and, in the classic mode, a generous slice of a large bermuda onion was included somewhere in the stack.
Preferred condiments seemed to be limited largely to ketchup. When I was living nearby and working in Meriden many years ago, there was one place that also offered roast Italian peppers as an addition -- not classic but I preferred it over the slice of [brrrp] onion.
When I was last in that area, there was also one place each in Middletown and Portland CT where a steamed cheeseburger could be had. I believe at least one of their steam chests came from a Meriden place that had eventually closed because, as of that time, nobady was fabricating any new ones.
However it may sound to you, folks, a steamed cheeseburger on a proper roll with a genuine sharp cheddar cut directly from a wheel of the real stuff is a rare pleasure. If you got the good beef, a bit of gneuine country-store style cheddar, and a decent roll (light as air on the inside with a crispy -- not hard or chewy -- outside, you can do it at home without the steam cabinet. That's what I had to do to satisfy my addiction after leaving the area.
I just used a wok with a round cake rack trimmed down to where it would sit at the right height over some boiling water. On the rack would go the formed burger with the cheddar melting in a 7.5 oz. tuna tin just beside it. Crude, but effective, if you're not trying to put them out in large volume. If your GI tract can abide it, slip in the slice of Bermuda onion. Otherwise, a modest amount of ordinary ketchup is all you need if you can't get a hold of some roast Italian peppers. I lived in New Mexico for awhile where I couldn't get Italian peppers but found that roast chili peppers from Hatch were a wonderful substitute.
Caution: any departures with respect to the basic elements will likely ensure a seriuously inferior result: combining a non-premium burtger with some greasy, authentically-labeled cheddar on common soft-sided bun will not produce anything remotely like the real thing.
And that's what it's all about.