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It's All About The Condiments, Baby

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A great burger requires great condiments. Even if you have the best beef around, and the most perfect bun, a burger is nothing but a thick meat sandwich if you don't have the proper dressings. This might be a controversial statement, but I'm guessing there are hundreds more condiment addicts out there—that is, if the New York Times dining section is anything to go by.

"Why I haven't been making my own mustard, ketchup and pickles is a bit of a mystery," writes Melissa Clark. "This summer I am making up for the lapse." Starting with ketchup, which sounds daunting to make but is actually quite easy, Clark embarks on a journey of self discovery and culinary growth. Just kidding—she simply takes great ingredients and turns them into better condiments. Adding Worcestershire sauce and black pepper to grape tomatoes, Clark creates her very own version of Heinz, and with a little allspice and coriander, she makes the perfect bread-and-butter pickles.

As a fellow condiment aficionado, I have also experimented with making my own ketchup and pickles. Though the ketchup came out wonderful (slow roasted tomatoes will make anything taste amazing), it ended up being more work than I wanted to put in. However, refrigerator pickles are not only incredibly easy—they are also fresher, crisper, and more flavorful than the grocery store kind. Instead of following a recipe, I have been experimenting with proportions. Sugar, salt, vinegar, garlic and coriander are the basic staples of my pickling liquid, but I have also been known to add crushed red pepper, cloves and dill seeds.

Another great thing about making your own pickles is that you no longer have to be hemmed in by the humble cucumber. Pickled beets, carrots and green tomatoes have all made an appearance in my summer salads. Pickled onions are great on burgers, and pickled green beans make a nice garnish for a bloody mary.

But of course, there are plenty of things you can put on your burger—no need to stick to the pickles-ketchup-mustard trifecta. So I'm curious: how do you like to dress up your patties?


Your Burger Will Thank You from The New York Times