It’s a beautiful day here in South Carolina for creating the world’s best cheeseburger! Let’s get started. Today, restaurants and schools and many of our beaches remain closed and many are sheltering at home. I am so blessed to live where I can self-isolate but still take long walks through ancient moss-draped live oaks, stroll down by the river’s edge and through lovely spring gardens. Gardens are everywhere in backyards, down gas-lit alleyways, along front yard fences, and by the playground where children used to play. I notice more gardens this year with vegetables. People love fresh herbs, lettuce, and things like vine-ripe tomatoes and cucumbers. I see them growing in raised gardens around my neighborhood.
There are now so many things I’ll never again take for granted once this shelter in place time recedes. The joy of good health, both mentally and physically, the love of simple things, and home, family, and having time – lots and lots of time. Some days it moved very, very slowly and it was a challenge not to waste it but to fill it wisely.
Beaufort, South Carolina
This photo is of Tidalholm, where they filmed the Big Chill and The Great Santini. This is Pat Conroy country and his legacy here is strong and enduring. Homes around my little neighborhood have this antebellum appeal and beauty. It’s easy to mentally escape the rest of the world in this quiet oasis. This is the little coastal town that inspired me to write a series of books – the Shrimp, Collards and Grits series with lots of stories, recipes from the South and fine art. Stories here are endless and they pop up all over the place when least expected.
I love telling newcomers about the legends, the folklore and the people of this wonderful place. I met someone this morning on my walk who had never heard of Pat Conroy! I thought, “Is she living on the same planet?” So I had the fun of telling her exactly who he was and all the books she needs to read to understand what a special place this is. She possibly thinks I’m a bit crazy because I was so exuberant. Just cannot help it!
My Most Memorable Burger Ever!
Restaurants are still mostly closed so we have to learn to cook. I challenge all of you to make the very best burger you have ever, ever eaten. You can do this at home and achieve fantastic results! I learned a few tricks last summer when I spent some time in Charleston at Husk and Chef Travis Grimes.
The cheeseburger at Husk on Queen Street in Charleston is the most out of this world delicious I have ever experienced. It’s strictly 5 stars all the way. It may be a while before any of us get to Charleston to sit down and order this incredible delicacy, so here is how to do it in your own backyard. I’ll let you in on every little secret I learned while I was there. Executive Chef Travis Grimes has been at Husk since its very beginning and worked beside the famed Sean Brock. Although Sean is no longer there, his influence remains strong.
Photo of Husk, on Queen Street in historic Charleston. Husk is the brainchild of chef Sean Brock. Brock started his career at McCrady’s, a high-end Charleston institution. He didn’t take a. day off until the restaurant received its first good review. Each item on the menu features a southern ingredient, be it pimento cheese, pickled veggies, country ham, chicken or pork rinds.
Very important is to get freshly ground meat from your butcher. If not, you will need a grinder at home because freshness is imperative. Next, you need a light touch when making the patties being sure not to compact the meat too hard. Lightly mix ingredients together. And never, ever press down on the patties while cooking them.
Here’s what you will need:
1 (3 pounds) fresh boneless chuck roast
12 ounces flank steak
3 ounces bacon
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
10 burger buns, preferably potato rolls
1 cup white onion, shaved
20 slices American cheese
50 Bread-and-Butter pickles
Mix the ground meat gently to combine. The bacon should be ground into the meat. Portion the meat mixture into twenty 3-ounce patties, about 1/2 inch thick. (each burger gets 2 patties)
Tightly cover the patties and refrigerate. Remove from the refrigerator 30 minutes before you are ready to cook.
Generously butter the tops and bottoms of the buns.
Toast on a griddle until nice and golden brown. Reserve.
Heat two 12-inch cast-iron skillets until as hot as possible. Or you may heat your grill to a very high temperature.
If using the pans, divide the patties between the two hot pans.
When patties are nice and charred, about 2 minutes, flip them over and cook for 2 minutes more for medium.
Place onions on 10 of the patties.
Place a slice of the cheese on all of the patties and allow it to melt, about 30 seconds.
Stack the non-onion patties on top of the onion patties. Remove from the heat.
Smear both sides of the buns with special sauce.
Place 5 pickles on the bottom half of each bun. Add the burger patties and top with the top halves of the buns.
1 3/4 cup mayonnaise
1 1/4 cups yellow mustard
5 tablespoons ketchup
1/2 cup Bread-and-Butter pickles
1/4 cup pickled jalapenos, drained and cut into 1/8 inch slices
grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon hot sauce
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons Texas Pete
Combine all the ingredients in a large container and stir together to blend well.
Cover and refrigerate. This keeps for 5 days in the refrigerator.
MRS. WHALEY’S GARDEN ON CHURCH STREET
Designed by Loutrel Briggs in 1940 and tended faithfully for almost 50 years by Emily Whaley, the garden is small and secluded in Charleston’s historic district.
If you are fortunate enough to be able to visit Charleston, stop by and tour Mrs.Whaley’s garden, possibly the most visited private garden in our country. It’s the most quintessential Charleston garden.If you have never been here, well, bless your heart. It’s a place like no other that lingers on in the hearts of everyone whoever comes here. This garden is a legend in its time – a must-see!
Springtime is the best time to visit.