Thanks for vast herds of bison to kill and skin leaving the carcasses to rot.
Thanks for bounties on wolves and coyotes.
Thanks for the American dream,
To vulgarize and to falsify until the bare lies shine through.
– William S. Burroughs “A Thanksgiving Prayer”
Special Burger at Kuma’s Corner for December, 2015
- Fresh thyme garnish
- Bacon fat aioli
- Smoked applewood bacon
- Caramelized onions and mushrooms
- Red wine gravy
- Fried smoked gouda cheese
- 10oz. beef patty
- Pretzel bun
*sigh* And just when I was done with sampling more of Kuma’s Corner genius, the harshers of mellow relapsed into criminal behavior by returning the Ministry burger, named after one of Chicago’s very own industrial metal bands. Not that I’m complaining about culinary recidivism. BESIDES, after a disastrously boring Trans-Siberian Orchestra concert I was desperate to get away from what looked like the lovechild of Fimbulwinter and a 7-Eleven Slurpee machine, and sought solace in the warm embrace of what might very well be Kuma’s deadliest creation.
Now, there are fatty burgers, and then there are the burgers that feel like your heart has been ripped out of your chest and thrown in a mosh pit. The Ministry burger is one such burger. This fried-and-true creation stays true to the band it represents. It is hardcore.
A combination of thick, applewood smoked bacon and bacon fat aioli create a potent base which permeates and persists in every bite. The aioli’s richness adds another dimension to the bacon itself, giving it the “Whoah, I need to take a break” quality of, say, pork belly, proving to be a sanity check when the savory and greasy bacon is really “gonna punch you till your face is raw“. Ministry’s
words lyrics, not mine.
Further enriched by the red wine gravy, this richness is dialed down a notch with a surprisingly stout-like taste. It really tasted like chunks of bread dipped in delicious Guinness stew, and I enjoyed dipping my beef fat fried fries innit. Why pull any punches, right?
All of said flavors then combine with the medium rare bloody patty, and the juiciness of caramelized onions and earthy mushrooms medley. Every bite is full with so much flavor, and the pretzel bun absorbs it all, ensuring that there are no empty bites at all. It is the fried smoked gouda cheese adds a final twist to the Ministry burger – in what is ultimately a fancy version of a “mozarella stick”, the fried cheese inside comes out stringy and hot. Each pull with the teeth is a small, very well-calculated break from the absurdly rich flavors of the Ministry, and the chewy cheese’s nutty notes allow you to fully appreciate the thyme‘s long-lasting nuances as well. Sure, it may be far from a balanced meal, but the Ministry burger is proof that even the greasiest of foods can shine with their own kind of balance when it comes to flavors and richness. Overall, this bad boy is a good and messy meal. It’s definite for niche lovers.
I guess I’m a niche lover now..
Lots of ways to go about pairing the Ministry burger. Lots of vivid carbonation goes great and helps cut the fat, and ales of the Red and Brown variety are just an overall great pairing when it comes to smoked Gouda and nurturing the caramelized vegetable medley, so something like Two Brothers Brewing Co.’s Cane and Ebel Hopped-up Red Rye Ale [7.0% ABV] is a natural fit. It’s always available to boot. I, however, decided to try something else and went for the unusual (no, not Hendrick’s Gin) – a 21st Amendment Brewery Toaster Pastry India-Style Red Ale [7.40% ABV]. First of all, let me begin by saying that I’d love to see this red ale blended with last week’s 4 Hands Brewing Co. Absence of Light Peanut Butter Chocolate Milk Stout [7.10% ABV] for a boozy milkshake infused with, oh I dunno, chocolate and/or strawberry vodka?
Anyways, Toaster Pastry is a hoppy, malty, biscuity red ale with lots of malts and hops attempting to recreate the taste of a strawberry Pop Tart. This ale pours a beautiful amber/copper in-between, which fills the nose with notes of bread and sweet, sweet caramel, followed by what seems to be a lingering scent of fruity hoppiness. It’s a great looking beer, and the smell is quite tempting as well. The strawberry mimicry is suuuuubtle but it’s there, hidden behind the creamy mouthfeel, medium body and energetic carbonation. Despite it’s name, Toaster Pastry is far from being a candy beer. It’s very well balanced and has to offer a little bit of everything, which is just what a burger such as the Ministry deserves. Enough malts to capitalize on the gouda cheese, plenty of hops and carbonation to cut the fat, and enough caramel undertones to bring everything together for a very earthy and pleasant overall feeling achieved from pairing Toaster Pastry with Ministry. I wasn’t 100% sure about making the match, but as soon as I tried it I was hooked, and Toaster Pastry gets my sincerest recommendation.