Recipe finder | Re-creating the classic Harley Burger

July 22, 2014|By Julie Rothman, For The Baltimore Sun

Donna Marsh of Hanover and Susan Zeiger of Baltimore both were looking for the recipe for the burgers that were sold at the Harley's sandwich shops in and around Baltimore in the '60s and '70s. Marsh said the Harley Burgers, ground beef patties simmered in a red sauce and served with lots of onions, were the best.

Baltimore Sun columnist Jacques Kelly traced the history of the Harley's shops in an April 1993 column. As Kelly tells it, Harley Brinsfield opened his first stand-alone sub shop at McMechen Street and Linden Avenue, and many others soon followed. Brinsfield hosted a popular radio show on WBAL and several other stations, which naturally included plenty of ads for his sandwich shops to help spread the word. But it was the food that brought people both young and old back to Harley's time and again, and its the special taste that many still remember fondly.

Bill Copper of Baltimore is one such person. He said he can still remember Brinsfield's late-night radio show and driving from his home in South Baltimore to the Harley's on Falls Road and Cold Spring Lane for the "greatest subs money ever bought." The last Harley's sub shop closed sometime after Brinsfield's death in 1990, and for many true Baltimoreans, nothing will ever replace Harley's.

Over the years, there have been attempts at recipes for some Harley's favorites. Cooper shared a recipe for the burgers that he cut from a newspaper quite a while back. He said he tweaked the recipe a bit and has been making these burgers at home for years. "They come as close as anybody can to the real thing," he said.

Copper told me his trick was to use the thinnest frozen patties possible. He likes to serve them on a soft, bulky roll and top each one with lots of the sauce and onions.

I can't say I ever had the pleasure of eating a Harley Burger growing up, but my husband and his buddies were big fans, and he thought these was very reminiscent of the original from his teenage days.

Requests

Madeline Johnson from Kelso, Wash., has lost her recipe for apricot pineapple jam. She has had no luck locating one from her usual sources, such as Sure-jell, and was hoping someone would have a good recipe to share.

If you are looking for a recipe or can answer a request, write to Julie Rothman, Recipe Finder, The Baltimore Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore 21278 or email baltsunrecipefinder@gmail.com. If you send in more than one recipe, please put each on a separate piece of paper and be sure to include your name, address and daytime phone number. Important: Name and hometown must accompany recipes in order to be published. Please list the ingredients in order of use, and note the number of servings each recipe makes. Please type or print contributions. Letter and recipes may be edited for clarity.

Bill's Harley Burgers

Makes 8 burgers

8 frozen beef patties, as thin as possible (2 pounds total)

3 cups water

2 tablespoons A1 steak sauce

2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

1/3 cup ketchup

1 teaspoon brown sugar, optional

2 large onions, sliced in rings

Salt and pepper to taste

8 soft kaiser rolls

Saute frozen beef patties in a large skillet over medium-high heat, turning once, until cooked about half way. Remove patties from pan and set aside.

Drain any fat from pan and add the water, steak sauce, Worcestershire sauce, ketchup and brown sugar (if using). Bring to a boil, reduce heat and cook and stir for about 2 minutes then add in the sliced onions.

Cover and simmer on low until onions are tender, about 10 to 15 minutes, then place the patties back into the pan and cook another 10 minutes or until patties are thoroughly cooked.

Place individual patty on roll and top with sauce and lots of onions.

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