Every year on this Day, December 7th, I’ve share posts and recipes revolving around the obvious – the attack on Pearl Harbor that propelled America into World War II. Next year will mark the 80th Anniversary. Wow!
Today is also National Illinois Day. Illinois Day has been overshadowed by Pearl Harbor Day. Many Americans can relate to the attack on Pearl Harbor. Perhaps a father or grandfather answered the call to serve. Perhaps a grandmother or great grandmother worked in the factories while the men went off to war. Perhaps, like me, a parent was directly affected by the ugliness up close and personal. My mother was a girl in the Philippines who witnessed first-hand the horrors of war. My teacher, a Japanese American, lost everything when she was uprooted to an internment camp. For some the scars of war remain closer to the surface and can impact others. The significance of December 7th and the attack on Pearl Harbor should never be swept under the rug. Wars, as ugly as they are, not only change the course of humanity but also individuals in little, unseen ways. It’s important to move forward from that pivot, allowing the good in the world to overshadow anything bad.
So often when we think of Pearl Harbor, we think of the tranquility of a Sunday morning shattered or the haunting images of the Arizona Memorial. Pearl Harbor continues to be a Naval Base. The base is home to the USS Illinois, a nuclear powered submarine and the third ship to bear the name Illinois. She is part of the Submarine Squadron One.
I have no idea why the powders that be would select today to honor Illinois, the 21st state to join the union. December 7th, Pearl Harbor Day, should be the focus alone. Yet here we are, celebrating a state that four former Presidents once called home. While Ronald Regan was the only President born in Illinois, Abraham Lincoln, Ulysses S. Grant and Barack Obama all called Illinois home. Did you know that the famous Route 66 began in Chicago? The Windy City, home to deep-dish pizza and Chicken Vesuvio. When it comes to culinary representation, Illinois is a cornucopia of possibilities.
Imagine my delight, when researching dishes popular in Illinois, that I came across the Horseshoe Sandwich. Wow, this burger sandwich has it all. Toasted bread base, a thick beefy patty, crinkle fries and the pièce de résistance, a Cheddar Cheese Sauce kissed with just a hint of hot sauce. Oh yeah – this is the perfect dish to celebrate National Illinois Day. Here we are, in the grips of winter, indulging in all the goodness of a summertime backyard favorite. And what could be a better representation of Route 66 than a burger? Awesome!
1 lb frozen Crinkle French Fries
1-1/3 lb Ground Beef
4 thick slices Bread
1/2 cup Butter
1/4 cup Flour
2 cups Half-and-Half
2 cups Irish Cheddar Cheese
Pinch Kosher Salt
Fresh Black Pepper to taste
Hot Sauce to tastes
Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Spread french fries out on a baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes in the heated oven, or until golden brown. Keep warm.
Meanwhile, divide the ground beef into four equal parts and form into square patties just a little larger than the bread. Fry the patties in a large cast iron skillet over medium-high heat until well done, about 4 minutes per side. Remove patties, wrap in foil and keep warm.
Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat and whisk in the flour. Cook while stirring constantly for 4 minutes create a rich roux. Gradually add the half-and-half, whisking constantly to prevent lumps from forming. Bring to a simmer then remove from the heat. Add the cheese; stir until melted. Season with salt, pepper, and hot sauce to taste. Keep warm.
Toast bread. Place bread slices on individual plates. Top each bread slice with a hamburger patty. Divide the fries between burgers and stack on top. Ladle with cheese sauce, serve and enjoy.