Q and A with Rachael Ray on her new burger cookbook

Ray serves up 200 recipes in her book. MELANIE DUNEA?/?CPI
Ray serves up 200 recipes in her book. MELANIE DUNEA?/?CPI
Posted: June 07, 2012

Rachael Ray, the Queen of Quick Meals, has dubbed herself the Queen of Burgers with her new book, The Book of Burger (Atria Books, $24.99), released Tuesday. The popular host of TV’s Rachael Ray Show will be signing copies Thursday from 6 to 8 p.m. at Wegman’s in King of Prussia. Described by her publisher as "the ultimate collection of more than 200 recipes for burgers, sliders, sloppies, fries and sides," it offers her own favorite recipes along with those from other chefs who have competed in her Burger Bash in South Beach.

We asked her a few questions about her love of burgers.

Question: Which fast-food burger is your favorite?

Answer: I love all burgers. Shake Shack in New York is great. Obviously, Michael Symon has a great burger at B-Spot in Cleveland and he has won our Burger Bash for three years running. I like Spike Mendelsohn’s Good Stuff Eatery in Washington, D.C. Both he and Michael contributed burger recipes for this book.

Q: You have stayed away from opening restaurants. Another Food Network celebrity, Bobby Flay, has his Burger Palaces. Would you open one? Do you plan any other future restaurants?

A: I would love to open a restaurant and have been looking at potential spaces for some time now. In the restaurant business it’s all about location, location, location. I have my concept down, now I just need to find a home for it in NYC.

Q: Did any of the burgers originate with 30 Minute Meals?

A: Plenty of them. That’s why I wanted to do a book dedicated to the burger. I like what a burger says. I like playing with the idea of what a burger is — it can be made with anything — seafood, vegetables, chicken. Obviously, in this book I have some more elaborate burgers that take a little more time, but the essence of a burger is that it’s a quick meal that can be whipped up using a lot of different ingredients you probably already have in the fridge and pantry.

Q: Why did you visit elementary schools with first lady Michelle Obama? Are there plans to do more on children’s health, as so many children think of McDonald’s rather than a healthy salmon burger?

A: The first lady is doing some amazing things to get America’s kids and families eating better and moving a little more. I’m glad we were able to come together in the way we did. Yes, our Yum-O! organization works on children’s health issues on a daily basis. From day one, I have always said it’s not hard to create a burger at home from scratch, and if you can take that small step to cook at home, a home-cooked burger is a lot better for you than eating fast food five nights a week.

Q: How important is the quality of the meat? Could the desired effect be achieved with the spices and lesser cuts of meat?

A: Ground chuck is a very affordable and great-tasting meat and most people have access to it. If you can get meat from a butcher or a source that grinds it fresh from whole muscles, that’s the way to go. It gives you the best quality while lowering the risk for food-borne illness which people tend to get from ground meat made from scraps. Brisket [used in one sandwich] is also a very affordable cut of meat. Sometimes there is just no need to get ground meat made from filet. Oh yeah, about the spices: While I do like to season up my food, spices should never be a cover-up for poor-quality meat, or any food for that matter.

Q: Last year, you taped a very Philly segment, the Great Philly Grill-Off with icon Patti LaBelle on theRachael Ray Show. Do you have any other Philly stars coming up soon?

A: We are currently on hiatus until Season 7 starts, but I love Philly. I love the restaurants there and the people are quite friendly, too. They sure do love their city.

Q: When you come to Philly, where do you eat?

A: That’s a tough one. There are so many cool things going on in Philly. I think what the ladies of 13th Street have done in transforming that block is pretty amazing — I happen to love Barbuzzo. I also happen to be a big fan of Jose Garces and all of his different concepts. Who doesn’t love a nice Italian boy like Marc Vetri?! My friend Kappy brought me some food from Michael Solomonov’s Israeli restaurant called Zahav, which was fantastic. I also hear Pub & Kitchen is quite tasty, but I haven’t made it there yet.

Contact Deirdre M. Childress at 215-854-2463 or dchildress@phillynews.com.

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