Sometimes only hearty will do: think juicy burger stuffed with cheese.
Having a mom who's in the food business has meant my three boys have had many occasions to try a wide variety of sophisticated fare. Part of my strategy is that I've tried to expose my kids to different foods and tastes. Another, and perhaps more influential factor, is simply a matter of practicality. A major part of how I make my living is developing recipes, and because I have no interest in cooking all day only to turn around and cook again for dinner, I tend to feed my family whatever recipe I'm testing.
While my younger two are more like me and enjoy the experience of trying new things, my older son takes a different approach to food. He's a good sport and will eat what he's served, but for the most part, he eats to live -- the polar opposite of my "live to eat" philosophy. And while he did think the little birds were "cute" when he was 3 and I was testing squab for a magazine article, my strapping 18-year-old would now probably roll his eyes a bit and ask when the "real food" was coming.
A few familiar dishes
So I know that among the interesting, unique and sometimes challenging meals I serve, there has to be a fair measure of dinners that cater to the reality of feeding a husband and three boys. In other words, sometimes I have to give them what they want. And often what they want is hearty fare, such as a juicy burger -- a Juicy Lucy, to be more precise.
A Juicy Lucy (aka Jucy Lucy) is not only hearty fare, but also falls into the category of fun food. This may be what makes them so popular in the Twin Cities. They taste oh-so-good, with a surprise in the middle: a molten flow of American cheese. What could be wrong with that idea! Well, nothing, if you're only eating them on special occasions.
But if I'm going to put them in my regular meal lineup, I feel like I need to lighten them up a bit, which is easy to do. I simply swap out the fattier beef option for leaner ground turkey, use low-fat American cheese and top off the burger with a toasted whole wheat bun. I like mine with the contrast of cool lettuce and tomato, along with the traditional dill pickle slices, though my boys usually like them plain.
No, it's not exactly what they're serving at Matt's Bar or the 5-8 Club, but it certainly satisfies the testosterone-laden demands at my dinner table, and it makes me pretty happy, too.