Mary Kathryn Carpenter/The Natchez Democrat — Local chefs and restaurant owners agree a simple burger is the best burger. Start with good, quality meat and let your taste buds decide the rest.
Mary Kathryn Carpenter/The Natchez Democrat — Local chefs and restaurant owners agree a simple burger is the best burger. Start with good, quality meat and let your taste buds decide the rest.

Celebrate your Fourth of July with a meal as American as fireworks, apple pie

Published 12:05am Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Nothing is more American than a juicy hamburger on the Fourth of July.

Of course biting in while seated at a table with friends might spark the summertime debate over what makes this great American delight so delicious.

Is it the burger or the toppings?

Local chef Regina Charboneau pledges her allegiance to hamburger patty. The meat is the best place to start, she says.

“It should be 40-percent fat,” she said.

All other additions — from the bun to the toppings — should compliment not take away from the meat.

Choosing a bun for your burger can be difficult, but Charboneau says it’s best to stick to the basics.

“I think a traditional bun is best,” she said.

And with the oil from the meat, you don’t necessarily need mayonnaise or many condiments.

“I generally prefer mustard and pickles,” Charboneau said. “I like the tartness in mustard and pickles.”

If you prefer a little sweetness in a burger, ketchup or caramelized onions may do the trick, Charboneau said.

Cheese is really a personal preference, Charboneau says.

“Cheese should go with the whole concept of your burger,” she said. “If you’re going to use a jalapeño cheese, then you should go with avocados and tomatoes, and go with the Southwest or Mexican route.”

Chef Bingo Starr likes to create a few fireworks with his burgers — adding flourishes to his Independence Day feast.

Starr said one of his favorite burger ingredients is pimento cheese.

“With that, I was really looking to try something different, and pimento cheese already had everything in it that I wanted to put in a burger,” he said.

Fried pork belly is also another one of Starr’s favorite burger ingredients, as well as a hickory red chile sauce.

Magnolia Grill owner John Parks recommends always building your burger around the meat.

“Fresh ground beef and a good bun are the main things you need for a good burger,” Parks said. “You want a bun that’s going to hold up the juicy burger.

“Then you add your standard toppings — lettuce, tomato, onion, and add some good cheese and applewood smoked bacon.”

Keeping the burger simple is what makes it so great, Parks said.

“It changes the whole concept of a burger when you start adding more things,” he said. “It just takes something away from it.”