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Sara Moulton’s Det Burger

By Sara Moulton - Friend of Milk Street

25 minutes 25 minutes active

Sara Moulton’s Det Burger

Two different branches of the Moulton clan have shared an old farmhouse in northeastern Massachusetts for more than 60 years. Traditionally, the whole gang gathers together there several times a year, including on the Fourth of July. Equally traditional is the menu for dinner that evening—baked salmon with a Hollandaise sauce and fresh peas from the back yard. This year we won’t be at the farm, so I thought I’d change up the menu, too. Allow me to introduce you to the Det Burger, a tasty item that does not require a grill (don’t have one in my New York City apartment) with a unique history.

My first professional cooking job was at a bar called the Del Rio in Ann Arbor, where I went to college in the mid-1970s. The Det Burger, the best-loved item on the menu, was invented one slow day by bored cook Bob Detwiler, who proceeded to name it after himself. It was a quarter-pounder topped with canned mushrooms, canned olives, freeze dried green peppers and processed cheese, then steamed in beer—and it was surprisingly delicious! Even so, years later I figured out how to improve it, replacing the original ingredients with fresh mushrooms, Mediterranean olives, green chiles and sharp cheddar cheese. Needless to say, I kept the beer.

Photography by Sara Moulton

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