Papa’s Favorite Wild West Hamburger

In 2014 Ernest Hemingway’s hamburger recipe resurfaced at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Boston. The maximalist patty, which first appeared in our June/July 2014 issue with Helen Rosner’s story “A Writer’s Beef,” calls for minced carrot and tomato, cheddar cheese, grated apple, capers, India relish, and a brace of spices, all mixed directly into the beef. The result is juicy and vibrant, its many constituent parts melding into a single, intensely savory whole.

Papa’s Favorite Wild West Hamburger Papa’s Favorite Wild West Hamburger
Ernest Hemingway’s hamburger is a maximalist patty of ham, cheddar, carrots, apples, capers (and the list goes on) all mixed directly into the beef.
Yield: serves 4


  • 1 lb. lean ground beef
  • 2 oz. sliced ham, minced
  • 13 cup dry red or white wine
  • 14 cup grated cheddar
  • 2 tbsp. capers, drained
  • 2 tbsp. grated tart apple
  • 1 tbsp. minced parsley
  • 1 tbsp. soy sauce
  • 1 12 tsp. ground sage
  • 1 12 tsp. India relish
  • 12 tsp. Beau Monde seasoning
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced garlic, minced
  • 2 small scallions, minced
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 plum tomato, cored, peeled, and grated
  • 12 small carrot, grated
  • 12 small yellow onion, grated
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 tbsp. canola oil
  • Hamburger buns, lettuce, sliced tomato and onion, ketchup, mustard, and mayonnaise, for serving


  1. Mix ingredients, except for oil, buns, and condiments, in a bowl; form into four 6-oz. patties. Heat oil in a 12″ skillet over medium-high heat. Cook patties, flipping once, until cooked to desired doneness, 8–10 minutes for medium rare. Serve on buns with lettuce, tomato, onion, ketchup, mustard, and mayonnaise.