Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Recession post vol. five with special guest Dean Cochrane

My favorite quote from my friend Dean Cochrane is "I blame Bush. That motherfucker has ruined everything," which he calls an "all-purpose phase." So all you guys out there whose women are faking orgasms, go ahead and blame Bush courtesy of Dean. Same goes for all you women out there faking orgasms because your man can't get the trick: it's Bush's fault.

Now I advise you to stick with Dean through his Burgers of the World post, which is peppered with good advice and little known facts such as the connection between stomach goo and hangovers.

* * *

So, you're stuck in a recession. For the longest time you were a happy little camper, supporting the war on terror and paying interest only on your 600,000 exotic mortgage on that 2 bedroom fixer-upper in Sacramento... then it happened. While you weren't looking. A recession.

The all-purpose recession food, at least for carnivores, is hamburger. Ground cow. Lips n' assholes, as my old college roomie used to say. As long as you cook the shit (literally) out of it, you're safe.

You can make almost anything with hamburger, but the primary use, of course, is hamburgers.

Dean Cochrane's Burgers of the World


1 lb ground chuck

One egg

Some breadlike substance: basically a starch to soak up fat and bind with the egg. Crackers, stale bread work. Pita bread doesn't. The amount varies depending on the other stuff you've got in there. I just add starch until the meat mixture forms a ball that is nice and firm and can be rolled without sticking to your fingers in little peaks.

One small onion, chopped fine

One or two cloves of garlic - optional, chopped fine

Salt and pepper to taste

Hamburger buns: if we weren't in a recession, you could buy Kaiser rolls or Ciabatta buns and invite your friends over. But we are, so buy the cheapass no-name buns and keep them to yourself.

Procedure and More Ingredients

Throw everything but the bread crumbs (cracker crumbs, whatever) into a bowl and squish it all together with your hands. Once it's a smooth mixture, start adding breadcrumbs and mashing the meat mixture with your fingers until it reaches the right consistency. As I said above, this is when the meat doesn't stick to your fingers in little peaks, but before it cracks when you squish it down flat into a patty.

Recession cooking is all about creativity. When all you can afford is hamburger (and when you're buying regular fatty lips n' assholes instead of lean or extra lean, which are probably more asshole than lip) you have to resort to dressing it up. A lot. That means being creative, and that in turn means making use of what you've got.

And so, to this, you could add:

… 3-4 tablespoons of red taco sauce, or the package of leftover burrito seasoning mix from 2005 when things were good. This will give you Recession TexMex Burgers. Serve them with the half-jar of salsa from the back of the fridge* and a bag of those cheap Restaurant-Style! tortilla chips for a meal that will remind you that, recession or no, you're still better off than 95 percent of those who live south of the border.

*Note: when Recession Fridge-mining, DO NOT look at the expiry dates. It will only make you worry, and who needs more worry during a recession? Those dates are only suggestions anyway.


… 10-12 drops of habanero pepper sauce. If you're hung over and eating hamburgers for breakfast because you're one of those people who cure hangovers with a healthy dose of protein, make it a 1/2 teaspoon. This makes either Nicely Spicy Recession Burgers or Holy Fuck It's a Depression Burgers. I have a theory about booze and hangovers: the booze mixes with the goop that lines your stomach and intestines (have you ever seen stomach? It's lined with goop) and makes an irritating intestinal-booze-jelly that sticks to your insides. Really hot stuff makes all that goop just move on through, if you know what I mean, and the best damn cure for a hangover is some really hot food and about a quart of ice-water. And an aspirin.


… Dig around the back of the spice cabinet and find that jar of curry powder that you bought at the supermarket back when the US dollar was the currency everybody lived for. Open it up... it's almost full, of course. Nobody ever empties one of those jars, because the only people who buy this shit are people who don't know Indian cooking, and so they read a recipe that calls for curry powder, they buy a jar, use 1/2 tsp (for Aunt Marg's Curried Potato Salad, which nobody eats), and then never touch it again.

So I know for sure that you've got a jar like that. Find it, (it's probably back beside the sweet paprika) and put a solid teaspoon in.

Make yourself some Bombay Burgers. If the TexMex burgers above didn't do the trick, these should remind you that, even if you're the second-poorest goddamn person in the United States, you've probably got more money in pocket change than the average Calcutta streetwalker will see in a year.


… Look way in the back of your cupboard until you find the box of Lipton's powdered Onion Soup mix. Nobody ever makes Onion soup with this stuff, because it's vile. Take that and mix it into the hamburger meat mix to give you I Don't Know What Nationality These Are Burgers. If you do this, omit the fresh onion, because that would be too much onion, and thus a waste of onion and not a Recession Burger at all.

Once you've made the meat mix, roll it into balls and flatten it. Flatten it out thinner than you think is reasonable, because the meat tries to reform a ball as it cooks. Don't ask me why this is: perhaps it is because they're Recession Burgers, and they're hunkering down for a storm--just like you should be.

Make sure you cook them long enough. They need to be at least light grey all the way through, no pink. Actually, it's better if you check them with a thermometer. They need to be at least 160 inside. It's the assholes, see. You have to make sure you kill all the Escherichia coli, also called E. coli. They're called 'coli' because they live in the lower intestines of warm-blooded mammals. They're fine as long as they stay there, and there's only a problem if they get into the UPPER digestive tracts of mammals. For some people, it can be a big problem, up to and involving death. You really don't want to complicate a recession with death. You'll just have to trust me on that one.

That's one thing you don't want to do with Recession Hamburger: undercook it.

Another thing you never want to do with Recession Hamburger is succumb to the lure of Hamburger Helper. Hamburger Helper is like Hamburger Lucifer, all shiny and beautiful and in-the-box fabulous. But Hamburger Lucifer is like the real life Lucifer (who is, of course, imaginary, just like that cute little glove that Helps the Harried Housewife serve her family a nutritious and delicious meal) and it lures you in with backrubs and sweet promises. But it does not deliver, oh, no, on those promises. Instead, there is only culinary damnation, breastbeating, and woe.

Do not heed the siren call of Hamburger Helper. It shouldn't be called Hamburger Helper. It should be called Hamburger Harmer. Hamburger Destroyer. Within that cheerful box lies soul-searing corruption.

One final note: Recession Burgers can be consumed with beer, or with stronger waters. Pretty much any beer will do, but cheap is better. As an added plus, crappy beer (think Pabst or Miller or Hamm's) will make Recession Burgers taste that much better by comparison.

For maximum Recession-fighting, though, I recommend drinking whiskey. Cheap rye works well, as does cheap bourbon. You don't even need to bother with glasses: that stuff is 40% alcohol. It's self-sterilizing. Just pass the bottle (and buy it in those big 40 lbers to save money). By the time you've eaten 2 burgers and worked your way through the top half of the jug, you won't give a shit about what the Federal Reserve is doing.

* * *

I came into this in search of hamburgers, which I surely got, but I won't be able to bring them to fruition until I overcome the images of a vicious machete-wielding Hamburger Helper glove and tiny lips and assholes floating in my burger--worth the price of admission alone.

Thanks Dean!


shaina said...

that is some picture of dean. kinda scary.
i skimmed most of the post though, cuz i don't eat red meat. grosssss. especially not after the image of lips and assholes...ewwwwwwww.
but i love dean, and erin o'brien too, so it's all good.

Norm said...

"You really don't want to complicate a recession with death. You'll just have to trust me on that one."

Huh. I'll try anything once. My life insurance policy is looking pretty good right now compared to the economy ... hmm

(great article, Dean -- good recruiting job, O'Brien!)

Divana said...

Erin, I'm still lost in Guru Rasa Von Werner's boobs! Help!

DogsDontPurr said...

This is classic! Clearly Dean has been shuffling through my cupboards and fridge. Either that or he's channeling my boyfriend who finds uses for food even when it's green and fuzzy! That must be a *guy* thing. Oy. Too funny!

Amy L. Hanna said...

It just goes to show that between The Pinch of generations and our sitting Screwed-In-Chief, we really do become what we eat. Eek!

Hi, Dean - nice to meet you and thanks for the recipes!

Anonymous said...

... that rocked.... now I want a burger!!...