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Sara Moulton’s Det Burger

By Sara Moulton - Friend of Milk Street

4 Servings

25 minutes 25 minutes active

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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



25 minutes

25 minutes active


  • 1

    medium onion

  • 8

    1½-inch cremini mushrooms (about 4 ounces)


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Colleen O.

This was so good. Used Tillamook white cheddar.