Ernest Hemingway's Favorite Hamburger Featured Wine In The Recipe

Ernest Hemingway may be known for writing numerous novels and short stories, but that's not all that he penned. A notorious gourmand, the literary great is also the author of an iconic recipe for homemade hamburgers. Possibly one of Hemingway's most peculiar texts, a typed and hand-edited recipe for "Papa's Favorite Wild West Hamburger" outlines the exact makings of a good burger. Of the many ingredients featured, a splash of wine is precisely the addition that renders Hemingway's burger truly irresistible. 

Between braising and deglazing, cooking with wine isn't a foreign concept. However, when it comes to crafting burgers, wine might not be the first ingredient that comes to mind. That said, the boozy addition does serve a few purposes. Primarily, wine can work to impart flavor, offering nuances of fruit, spice, or smoke. Likewise, since wine is fairly acidic, it can even balance the savory richness of the beef patties. Not to mention that a splash can also help keep the burgers moist. Just bear in mind that not every wine should be used.

The key to making Hemingway's famous burgers is to use a dry wine. As for which works best, opt for something that you'd enjoy drinking with a burger — the bottle will be open anyway. Bold and full-bodied reds such as  Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, or Tempranillo are always a great choice for red meat, but white wines like a crisp Chenin Blanc or a palate-cleansing Riesling can also work well.

How to make a tasty burger, Hemingway-style

To make Papa's Favorite Wild West Hamburger, more than ground beef and wine are needed. Hemingway lists aromatics like garlic and green onions alongside spices such as parsley, sage, a salt-sugar-pepper seasoning, and Spice Islands' Beau Monde Seasoning. Additional salt and pepper also make their way into the mince, in addition to an egg, a spoonful of India relish, and some capers. Yet, it isn't just this collection of unique ingredients that makes Hemingway's burger so successful — the method of preparation is just as important.

After combining the meat with the dry ingredients, Hemingway suggests letting the mixture rest briefly at room temperature. With wine and relish added, the mixture must sit again, before 1-inch thick patties can be formed. Next, the burgers can be pan-fried in oil until the edges are crispy, but the inside is still pink. The hamburgers can then be placed into buns and enjoyed. Any toppings can be added, however, given that the burgers will teem with texture and flavor, they probably won't need much else. 

Looking for other ways to add wine into burgers? Adapt Hemingway's approach. For instance, you can marinate patties in wine or even slowly simmer the burgers in a wine of your choosing. Otherwise, reduce the liquid into a sauce to top them. Whatever you decide, draw inspiration from Hemingway, and remember that adding wine to your burger recipe is never a bad idea!