Nevada’s Awful Big Day

Today is National Nevada Day. Nevada, the Battle Born State, was grated statehood during the Civil War. The only other state to join during the war was West Virginia. Although today is National Nevada Day, Nevada actually joined the union on October 31, 1864.

Nevada is the only state that I know when it was admitted without looking it up. Why? The first year we lived in Nevada, I had some errands to run, including a visit to the bank. Much to my amazement, the bank was closed. I asked my neighbor why the bank was closed, to be told it was a State Holiday. Really? Halloween is a state holiday? This is a strange place. Turns out it had nothing to do with Halloween and everything to do with Statehood.

When most people think of Nevada, they think Reno – the Biggest Little City or Las Vegas – visible at night from space. There is so much more to Nevada than bright lights and games of chance.

The desert is beautiful. And in the winter, it snows. There are stretches of highway that go on forever. There are more churches in Las Vegas per capita than anyplace else, the largest is Catholic, followed closely by the Mormons. When we lived in Nevada, I would tell people that I live in Las Vegas, I play in Vegas. The two are not the same.

I wanted to share a recipe that was fitting of Nevada. The first “food” that came up as associated with Nevada was a Shrimp Cocktail. Too cliche.

vegas shrimp cocktail

The second was a burger. Hum, that was something I could work with, something my guys could really appreciate.

Have you ever heard of the Awful Awful Burger? If you have, great! If not, don’t feel bad. I never heard of it either, yet plenty of Nevadans have crowned this iconic burger the best in the state. When I did a little digging for Nevada Day Recipes, the Awful Awful Burger kept popping up. I lived in Nevada for 14 years, and never knew about the Little Nugget Café in Reno. But in all fairness, we lived in southern Nevada. I don’t think Las Vegas has a preference. You can dine all around the world just be going from Casino to Casino. Paris has the best French; New York the best deli, Venetian great for Italian and on it goes.

Turns out the Awful Awful, like most things “Nevadan” is actually an Idaho transplant. A man named Dick Graves came up with the burger and served it in his Casinos until 1953, when garbling was outlawed in Idaho. Graves moved to Reno, and brought his massive burger with him. The Awful Awful burger consists of a half-pound burger smothered in a secret sauce, served on freshly baked onion buns and top with all the usual favorites. The Awful Awful Burger is actually short for “Awful Big and Awful Good.”

Since I’ve never actually had one, all I can tell you is that this is my spin on that Iconic Burger – it’s big, it’s good and it’s awfully awesome with parsley garlic fries.

Aweful Aweful Burger

An Awful Big Awful Good Hamburger
Awful Good Sauce
6 tablespoons Mayonnaise
3 tablespoon Ketchup
3 tablespoon Mustard
1 -1/2 tablespoons French Dressing
1-1/2 Teaspoons Onion Powder

In a small bowl, mix together the ingredients for the sauce. Cover and chill until ready to use.

Awful Big Burger Patties
1 lb lean Ground Beef
1 lb Ground Chuck
1 tablespoon Mesquite Seasoning
Black Pepper
American Cheese

Mix meats together. Add Mesquite Seasoning, work throughout the meat. Divide seasoned beef into 4 (half-pound) or 8 (quarter-pound) balls. Press the meat into discs, making sure it has uniform thickness throughout so that it cooks evenly.

Note: For burgers that are more to the medium side of done, go ahead and make half-pound patties. For burgers that are cooked through, go with the quarter-pound size and double up when assembling the sandwich.

Place parchment paper or waxed paper between patties. Cover and chill until ready to cook.

Place a large cast iron on the stove top. Add enough oil to generously coat the surface and heat to medium-high.

Test the skillet by carefully flicking water onto the surface. If the oil sizzles and pops, it is ready for cooking.

Carefully place the burger patties on the hot skillet, giving them at least 1 inch of space between for even cooking. Generously season burgers on one side with pepper, if desired.

Should the center of the burgers begin to rise up, press down with the back of a spoon, indent slightly so that the center continues to have contact with the skillet and cook through.

Cook undisturbed until a nice crisp crust forms, turn and continue to cook.

Reduce heat, cover and cook until desired doneness is reached, turning burgers as needed for even cooking. Once the burgers are cooked, top with cheese, cover pan and let cheese melt off heat.

Transfer burgers to a cutting board or platter and allow meat to rest for 5 minutes before building the burger.

Note: This rest-time will allow the juices to flow out onto the platter rather than to leak out onto the bun. Tent the burgers to keep warm or place in a warm oven while the final touches are put together.

Finishing Touches
4 Onion Roll Bun
Butter as needed
Iceberg Lettuce as needed
1/2 Red Onion, sliced
1 large Tomato, sliced

Wipe out the skillet used for the burgers. Split open the buns, spread a little butter on the inside of each bun. Toast lightly in the skillet over medium heat. Once toasted brush the cut size of the buns with sauce, set aside and keep warm until ready to assemble the big, juice burgers.

Break the lettuce into chunks, rinse and shake off excess water; set aside. Peel and slice half of the onion into 4 thick slices. Keep slice together rather than break into rings. Slice tomato into 4 slices. Set aside.

When ready to build the burger,  place the bottom buns on individual plates. Top with cheese burger.

Note: If quarter-pound patties were formed, double up so each burger has half a pound of meat.

Top burger with tomato slice, onion slice and some lettuce. Drizzle remaining sauce over the lettuce. Place top bun in place, serve and enjoy.


Parsley Garlic French Fries
1 (26 oz) Bag Frozen Fast-Food French Fries
Cooking Spray
Parsley Flakes
Garlic Salt

Heat oven to 450 degrees.

Spray a rimmed baking pan with cooking spray. Spread Fries out in a single layer. Spray lightly with cooking spray.

Bake in the heated oven for 12 minutes or until golden and just beginning to crisp, shaking pan half way through baking.

Remove from oven, sprinkle with dried parsley flakes and garlic salt. Toss to blend. Serve hot.

Author: Rosemarie's Kitchen

I'm a wife, mother, grandmother and avid home cook.I believe in eating healthy whenever possible, while still managing to indulge in life's pleasures.