Make Ernest Hemingway’s Favourite Hamburger

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Ernest Hemingway illustration eating hamburger.

With our archives now 3,500+ articles deep, we’ve determined to republish a basic piece every Sunday to assist our newer readers uncover a number of the finest, evergreen gems from the previous. This text was initially printed in September 2019.

Ernest Hemingway had an enormous urge for food for all times. Whether or not pounding away at his typewriter, deep sea fishing off the Florida Keys, searching from the mountains of the American West to the savannas of Africa, or issuing journalistic dispatches and even working his personal reconnaissance patrols on the frontlines of conflict, he had a outsized starvation for a variety of pursuits — and that included meals itself.

Hemingway’s intimate connection to his meals began early in his childhood. When he was only a younger boy, his father launched him to the pursuits of searching and fishing, in addition to their ethics: Ernest needed to eat no matter he killed. For many sportsmen, such a rule is sensible (and infrequently scrumptious), particularly when the sport consists of rabbits, venison, elk, and fowl, all of which Ernest consumed with gusto; he had a very punctilious recipe for campfire-cooked trout. But he stored his father’s rule regarding much less widespread and conveniently cooked recreation as properly, consuming all the pieces from porcupine to snake to lion.

Although Papa discovered his solace within the wild, he additionally loved the culinary comforts of civilization — like eating out and sipping a pleasant wine or refreshing daiquiri. His posthumous masterpiece, A Moveable Feast (1964), showcases Ernest’s appreciation for describing his meals. I keep in mind serving up this particular quote to my spouse, to get her to come back round to the enjoyment of oysters:

As I ate the oysters with their sturdy style of the ocean and their faint metallic style that the chilly white wine washed away, leaving solely the ocean style and the succulent texture, and as I drank their chilly liquid from every shell and washed it down with the crisp style of the wine, I misplaced the empty feeling and started to be pleased and to make plans.

And whereas he wasn’t overly home, Hemingway generally cooked at residence for himself and for others; as a conflict correspondent, he was recognized to fry up a pancake breakfast on a transportable range in his resort room and invite his fellow journalists to partake. 

Most incessantly although, he had his family workers prepare dinner his meals, primarily based on recipes he had first meticulously taste-tested and formulated himself. A batch of those resurfaced a decade in the past, when in 2009 a trove of digitized paperwork made their approach into the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Boston. Most of those paperwork got here from Hemingway’s time in Cuba, a roughly twenty-year interval the place he produced a few of his literary bests, together with For Whom the Bell Tolls and The Outdated Man and the Sea.

Whereas nearly all of the main points on this archival materials have been mundane, there was one explicit doc, made viral by The Paris Evaluate, that captured even my consideration: the recipe for Papa’s favourite hamburger.

I’ve lengthy been a burger purist. My philosophy has been properly documented: use the very best meat yow will discover, with a pleasant ratio of fats to meat, and season it with salt and pepper — nothing else. Gently mound the burger right into a unfastened patty, and prepare dinner it up in a cast-iron pan to develop a pleasant char, with a medium-rare heart.  

So I have to say that I used to be a bit shocked by Hemingway’s directions when it got here to making ready his hamburgers: “floor beef, onions, garlic, India relish, and capers, cooked so the perimeters are crispy however the heart purple and juicy.” Although the cooking approach appeared on level, I felt awash in a slew of further components, a few of which I naively deemed to be pointless.

However, if there’s one man who maybe deserves an immense quantity of belief, it’s Hemingway himself. So I set about to recreate his recipe, precisely because it was written, components, directions, and all.

I inevitably hit some similar snags in resurrecting this three-quarters-of-a-century-old burger formulation, nonetheless. One of many Spice Islands seasonings has since gone kaput. And India relish? I checked my native retailer and on-line, and whereas it’s potential to supply, it’s not simple. With my beers chilly within the fridge and my spouse hankering for this burger, I assumed it finest to search out the fitting substitute (included beneath). I felt much less responsible about not following the recipe to a T, as Hemingway himself, or maybe a member of the family, features a slew of different components scattered on the web page. 

Ernest Hemingway hamburger recipe.

What resulted was actually top-of-the-line burgers I’ve had in my life. I’m not simply saying that. Hell, my spouse advised me it was bar-none the very best burger she’s ever had. The seasoned meat, when cooked precisely as described, supplies a savory umami bomb of complexity, and the drippings of the burger absorbed into the bun, making condiments completely pointless. I can see why a person so well-traveled, indulged, and imbibed, would exit of his method to create such a pleasure. And like most of his work, I’m merely glad he took the time to report it for others.  

The recipe is quoted in its actual kind beneath, and I added a couple of substitution notes after that.

Make Papa’s Favourite Hamburger

Ernest Hemingway hamburger recipe.

From experimenting, Papa’s Favourite Hamburger. There isn’t a cause why a fried hamburger has to prove grey, greasy, paper-thin and tasteless. You possibly can add all types of goodies and flavors to the bottom beef — minced mushrooms, cocktail sauce, minced garlic and onion, chopped almonds, a giant dollop of Piccalilli, or no matter your eye lights on. Papa prefers this mixture.


Ingredients in a bowl to make a burger.

I’m exhibiting you all of the components right here collectively so you’ll be able to see them at a look. However as you’ll see from the directions, you add them to the meat in several steps when making the recipe.

  • 1 lb. floor lean beef
  • 2 cloves, minced garlic
  • 2 little inexperienced onions, finely chopped
  • 1 heaping teaspoon, India relish
  • 2 tablespoons, capers
  • 1 heaping teaspoon, Spice Islands Sage
  • Spice Islands Beau Monde Seasoning — ½ teaspoon
  • Spice Islands Mei Yen Powder — ½ teaspoon 
  • 1 egg, overwhelmed in a cup with a fork
  • About one-third cup dry purple or white wine
  • 1 tablespoon cooking oil


Break up the meat with a fork and scatter the garlic, onion, and dry seasonings over it, then combine them into the meat with a fork or your fingers.

Mixing of meat and ingredients in a bowl.

Let the bowl of meat sit out of the icebox for ten or fifteen minutes whilst you set the desk and make the salad. Add the relish, capers, all the pieces else together with wine and let the meat sit, quietly marinating, for an additional ten minutes if potential.

juicy patties with hands.

Now make 4 fats, juicy patties along with your fingers. The patties needs to be an inch thick, and comfortable in texture however not runny.

Fried patties in a pan.

Have the oil in your frying-pan scorching however not smoking once you drop within the patties after which flip the warmth down and fry the burgers about 4 minutes. Take the pan off the burner and switch the warmth excessive once more. Flip the burgers over, put the pan again on the new hearth, then after one minute, flip the warmth down once more and prepare dinner one other three minutes. Either side of the burgers needs to be crispy brown and the center pink and juicy.

Substitution Notes/Adjustments

  • Spice Islands discontinued its Mei Yen Powder a number of years in the past. I substituted with 1 tsp. soy sauce, ½ tsp. kosher salt, ½ tsp sugar, mixed and added into the meat combination.
  • The opposite Spice Islands seasonings are nonetheless out there. The Beau Monde is a novel mix, however the sage might be substituted with some other good high quality sage.
  • India Relish. You possibly can certainly nonetheless get this on-line, however typically in bulk and often for a reasonably penny (for a jar of relish). The style is described finest as proper down the center, not too bitter or candy. I’m personally a dill relish man, so I simply substituted with my favourite dill relish and the consequence was spectacular.


Matt Moore is a daily contributor to the Artwork of Manliness and the creator of The South’s Finest Butts.

The submit Make Ernest Hemingway’s Favourite Hamburger appeared first on The Artwork of Manliness.
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