Since 1998, according to a report earlier this year, there have been +4,359 UFO sightings in Texas.
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According to recent report of Me Reading Food Websites, 4,359 is also roughly the same number of places in which you can get a cheeseburger in Dallas-Fort Worth. And like UFOs, the cheeseburgers sighted in Dallas and North Texas vary in size, shape and experimentation. There is a taco burger. There is beaver. One burger patty mated improbably with chorizo and house ketchup. One burger came as the toppings of a flattened, buttered potato (Still WTFing this one). Some patties are meant to be thin and crispy, doubled up with gushes of American cheese and fried onions, and some are cooked like medallions of juicy steak. The best ones come cooked to hide a pink marble slab resting in the center. My personal favorites are the burgers with a gradient of griddle-sealed, darkened crust opening to a wildfire of a pink center.
But medium rare burgers are starting to feel like UFOs — ordered and discussed around the country, with sparse concrete evidence of their actual existence. A rough calculation puts the burgers I consumed last year at 52.5. While this stat has probably caused my personal physician to immediately boot-crush my medical records into the garbage, what’s more frustrating is the number of times an order of medium rare was honored. It’s low. Like, count on one hand low.
Recently, I looked at the burgers of Pints & Quarts. Their menus are printed with the staunch law: “no modifications on builds” and all burgers are cooked medium. Whether it's for expediency's sake or overcompensating for fear of underdone, “bloody” burgers — FDA’s code for ground beef says it should be hanging around 155-8 degrees — my cheeseburger was cooked like a desert skeleton. On a trip to Plano’s new burger-taco-BBQ concept by Kent Rathbun, Hickory, the waiter made a second trip to ask how I wanted it cooked. At Spork, on two occasions, we went for medium rare when asked about our preference for their excitingly house-ground burgers. Some burgers were juicy, but all arrived medium-well to well done, which is rabbit-punch-the-air frustrating when you’re specifically asked.
Obviously, not every burger needs it. I’ll take an expert In-N-Out double-double, animal style, with well done fries, most days over a $18 gourmet-a-thon. You might say, “Cook a burger at home then, you damn batty louse!" (because you’re from the early 1900s for some reason), which I would get. I probably am a terrible snob. I like the excitement of leaving the burgering up to a chef who will deliver a burger I could never do at home — miraculously crusted, but bladed with pink on the inside. It’s the same excitement, to me, of eating kale vapor for four days to save up for the perfect steak. Knife and Remedy are two burgers that have NASA-expert nailed medium rare. Offsite Kitchen always manages a good sheet of pink in there. I certainly respect a busy kitchen, and maybe there have been enough complaints about red juice flowing from burgers to make sure they’re fired like hell. Which is why I wanted to say: I love medium rare, and I’m not suing.