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Open Features: The Beef Attack

Ellie Braun-Haley tells of the day the hamburger meat fought back.

I've never thought of hamburger as being threatening. Sure when it was a cow it could have charged me and done some damage but for hamburger meat to get wildly animated, I never thought that would ever happen, and I have been cooking it for more than thirty years. This week I changed my views on that subject.

I set out to make spaghetti and began by browning almost three pounds of hamburger. I was interrupted when my services were required to be a taxi driver. I remembered to shut off the heat and left.

I was soon back at the stove, put the heat on to a medium temperature and stood next to the stove, chopping onions.

The house was quiet, with everyone off in their own little corner, relaxing, when the quiet was rudely and violently shattered by an explosive sound.

Shocked into a frozen state I was confused and mystified at what could have happened and had no time to think because a rain of hamburger hit simultaneous to the explosion.

I know I uttered a bewildered and loud unintelligible sound as I stood riveted to the same spot and viewed the result of this hamburger volcano. The kitchen floor was strewn with hamburger and snowball size chunks of hamburger now graced the stovetop. On one counter top I noticed the newly baked chocolate cake now featured a hamburger icing. I looked down at my feet to see hot grease surrounding me. There was a even a new design on my socks, hamburger.

Where is a camera when you need one? I know the look on my face must have been priceless. I began laughing, totally relieved and puzzled about what on earth had happened! I was relieved that no hot fat hit me, considering my proximity to the stove and the amount of fat that hit the floor all around me.

It was my chef husband who later explained the mystery of the attacking meat.

An oil bubble had formed under the hamburger as the temperature on the bottom of the pot increased too quickly. The weight of the meat held the bubble and allowed no escape route for it. If I had been stirring the pot the bubble never would have exploded. The stirring would have given the built up gas a place to release.

Well the spaghetti turned out okay, there was enough left in the pot to continue, but it may take me awhile to live down the many jokes about Popcorn beef and how fresh Alberta Beef really is.


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