Regional Foods: Central Connecticut’s Steamed Burgers
Ask any sports fan, no, ask any American, what their favorite food is, and the answer will often be “hamburger.” Ask these same people how they like their burger, and you will likely not hear the same answer twice. The hamburger is a most versatile food, with infinite ways to cook, accessorize and serve. If you venture to a few small towns in central Connecticut, you will find them prepared in a most unusual manner: they are steamed.
Instead of being fried or grilled, the burger is steamed in a stainless steel cabinet containing trays that contain either a ground beef patty or a chunk of cheese. This method of cooking melts the fat in the meat, which is then drained away after cooking. The melted cheese is then poured over the top of the burger and topped with various condiments as desired. Steaming a burger creates a moist and juicy burger with a tender texture and less fat seared inside than their grilled or fried counterparts.
The history of the steamed burger dates back to the early 1900s when a local food truck owner stumbled across the idea when feeding local construction workers. He started with just cheese sandwiches and tried steaming burgers as well when the workers asked for something more substantial. Others credit Jack’s Lunch in Middletown for originating the tasty treat in the 1930s.
Ted’s Restaurant in Meriden is the most well-known of all places to get a steamed burger, due to their media coverage, which includes appearances on Man vs. Food. They also operate a food truck which makes appearances at UConn football games at Rentschler Field and Central Connecticut football games at Arute Field. Ted’s also operates a stand at the XL Center in Hartford. The Hartford Yard Goats played a game as the “Steamed Cheeseburgers” in 2018.
In addition to Ted’s, locals tout K. LaMay’s Steamed Cheeseburgers in Meriden and American Steamed Cheeseburgers in Wallingford. While you can find a steamed burger just about anywhere, for whatever reason, it has not really pushed past the boundaries of a few towns bordering the Connecticut River.
A steamed cheeseburger is moister and less filling than what most burger fans will be used to. Stadium Journey recommends topping the burger with any of your favorite items. While a steamed burger has a different taste than what you may be used to, condiments enhance the flavor well.
If traveling through Connecticut on your stadium journeys, stop by one of the fine establishments in the small towns lining the Connecticut River. You’ll be glad you did.
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