What's served alongside the burger is almost as important as what's between the bun. French fries, potato chips, baked beans, corn on the cob, potato salad and big juicy wedges of watermelon are all appropriate and expected.
Sometimes, though, a little change is in order.
The following five suggestions switch the sides just enough to add interest without making the classic burger companion unrecognizable. Consider them amiable partners, as is the simple recipe for Golden Raisin Coleslaw at the bottom of this story.
Janet K. Keeler, Times food and travel editor
1. Chips, oh boy: Make your own flavored potato chips by adding seasonings such as chili powder, dried Italian herbs, lemon pepper or dry rubs. Stay away from salty seasonings. Spread out low-salt chips on a baking sheet and place them in a 300-degree oven. Let warm for about 10 minutes and the chips will release their oil. Sprinkle seasonings liberally on the chips and serve. Let sit for about 10 minutes before serving so the flavors bloom.
2. Dip it: Heat frozen sweet potato fries and serve with Chipotle Mayonnaise. (You could even spread this on your guacamole burger!) To make the dipping sauce, blend three chipotles with adobo sauce and ½ cup mayonnaise, ⅓ cup sour cream and 1 minced garlic clove.
3. Corn of plenty: Spread grilled corn on the cob with an herb-mayonnaise mixture, then sprinkle with finely grated Parmesan cheese. To make enough mayo spread for four ears of corn, mix ½ cup mayo, ¼ cup chopped cilantro, the juice of 1 lime and a few shakes of chili powder.
4. The bean bowl: Often, baked beans have chopped green peppers mixed in. This idea turns the tables. Halve green peppers lengthwise and trim, then toss on the grill with the burgers. When they are soft, but not falling apart, fill them with heated baked beans.
5. Fruit stripes: Grilled peach halves and pineapple rings are a delicious and healthful side offering for burgers. Brush them with a bit of melted butter and place on the grill when the burgers are cooking. A few minutes on each side and they'll be even sweeter than before. The peaches pair nicely with blue cheese crumbles, and the pineapple with goat cheese.