NESS - Trashcan Smaaaashburger
Updated: Feb 15, 2022
EarthBound is many things. Bizarre, psychedelic, goofy, subversive, nostalgic, humorous, heartfelt, irreverent, and poignant. Shigesato Itoi's labour of love is a cult classic which is deeply important to many fans. Known for its unique visuals, quirky music, and offbeat humour, EarthBound rose from obscurity and is today regarded as one of the best games of all time. This is also a game that means a lot to me personally - so I knew I needed to put some extra care into creating this recipe.
EarthBound is unique among JRPGs in that it is set in a fictionalized version of the late 20th-century United States. In many ways the game is a parody of Americana, often mocking and caricaturing aspects of Western culture. Really, what other food item sums up the tone and setting of EarthBound more than the ubiquitous hamburger? We're doing a bit of a spin on the classic burger: a smashburger (or should I say, a "SMAAAASH!!"burger), which simply involves squishing a ball of ground beef directly onto the griddle rather than making preformed patties. This is EarthBound, after all - we aren't going to be doing things the conventional way!
Hamburgers also happen to appear as a healing item throughout EarthBound, and in one infamous part of the game, Ness digs through a trashcan and finds a burger to eat. In fact, his willingness to eat food out of the garbage has become a sort of running joke among fans of the MOTHER series. I wanted to represent this peculiarity in the dish, so I took a page from the appropriately named "Garbage Plate," originally served at Rochester NY restaurant Nick Tahou Hots. This signature menu item is a mess of home fries, baked beans, macaroni salad, chopped onions, spicy mustard, and chili sauce - these made for a perfectly eclectic selection of toppings to give the burger a "straight-out-of-the-trash" feel.
And if you think a burger topped with baked beans or macaroni salad sounds weird - you'd be absolutely right! Weirdness is all part of the charm of EarthBound.
What is a hamburger without side dishes? This burger is served with thick cut potato fries, deep-fried pickles (say, "fuzzy pickles!") and a special dipping sauce! Condiments are another common item in EarthBound which could be used to modify food items to provide double the health. This special sauce (let's call it "delisauce!") can be made with whatever condiments you have on hand. I've provided a sample recipe below, but try to experiment with your own flavours!
2-4 medium or large yellow potatoes
¼ cup olive oil
3 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp garlic powder
1 tbsp onion powder
1 tbsp smoked paprika
3 tbsp grated parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper
Dill pickles, cut into spears
1 cup milk
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1-2 cups panko breadcrumbs
Vegetable oil, for frying
1 tbsp butter
½ white onion, finely chopped
½ cup mayonnaise
¼ cup ketchup
1-2 tbsp yellow mustard
1 tbsp lemon juice or pickle juice
1 tbsp red hot sauce, such as Frank's
1 small garlic clove, grated
Salt and pepper
Ground beef chuck, divided into six ¼ lb balls
6 hamburger buns
American cheese slices
Ketchup, mustard, and mayonnaise
Chili (try the beef chili used in the recipe for Sonic's Chili Dogs!)
Preheat oven to 400°. Thoroughly wash and scrub the potatoes, and then slice into wedges.
Rinse the wedges in cold water to remove the starch on the surface. Thoroughly dry with a cloth or paper towels.
Toss wedges in a large bowl with olive oil, lemon juice, onion and garlic powder, paprika, parmesan, and a generous pinch each of salt and pepper.
Spread seasoned wedges on a tray and cook in the oven for about 20 minutes, until golden brown and fork tender.
For pickles and dipping sauce:
Gently pat pickles with a paper towel to dry slightly. Dredge with a couple tablespoons of the flour.
Beat egg and milk until combined. Incorporate flour, baking powder, and a pinch of salt and pepper.
Dip floured pickles into batter, then roll in panko breadcrumbs. Drop into hot oil and cook until golden brown, about a minute or two on each side.
Make the special sauce: fry the finely chopped onion in butter over medium-low heat until caramelized and jammy. Combine mayonnaise, ketchup, mustard, lemon juice, pickle juice, hot sauce, garlic, the caramelized onions, and a pinch of salt and pepper. This sauce can really be made with whatever condiments you have on hand - you could also try adding sour cream, horseradish, barbecue sauce, relish or chopped up pickles.
Heat up a flat top griddle or a cast-iron skillet. Lightly brush with vegetable oil.
Divide ground beef chuck into 0.25 lb balls. Try to handle and reshape them as little as possible, you want them to look a bit craggy and irregular. Season well with salt and pepper.
Place beef balls onto the griddle. Using a large, flat metal spatula, firmly squish the balls until relatively flat. Do not touch the burgers for a good few minutes before flipping, otherwise you risk breaking the patties.
Butter and toast the hamburger buns on the same griddle, taking care not to burn.
Its time to flip the burgers once you see the browning start to creep up the sides of the patty. Flip and cook until the other side is well browned and slightly charred.
Your patties are ready to serve once they reach an internal temperature of 160°. Add a slice of American cheese on top and allow to melt during the final couple minutes of cooking if desired.
Assemble the burgers with your desired toppings!