I won't go through the history of the Harley's Sandwich Shop chain as I will explain it all in the Tuna Salad recipe on Friday, just suffice it to say that Harley's was THE fast food chain in Baltimore long before Gino's and McDonald's. Harley's restaurants were open all night and so were a favorite of the night shift crowd and police officers. These burgers were always simmering in Harley's secret sauce ready to be served to hungry customers.
Reconstructing this recipe has not been easy. The original recipes were lost after Shane's, the successor to Harley's, closed down in the 90's, however the clues are out there like this recipe. The model for it appeared in an old edition of the Baltimore Sun. I tried it but thought the sauce was watery and under-flavored compared to the original Harley Burger Sauce. So since then I've made it no less than 8 times trying out different variations and ingredients until one day, one glorious day I hit the nail on the head
Now keep in mind, this recipe is my own interpretation, based on what I remember the originals tasting like as such, it's open to interpretation. I'm always open to comments and suggestions from anyone else who experienced this heaven on a bun back in the day.
Baltimore Harley Burger
4 Potato Bread Hamburger Buns
2 cups water
2 large red onions sliced in thin rings
1/4C A-1 steak sauce
1/4C Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon sugar
1tsp Tabasco Sauce (can be reduced by half for a less spicy sauce)
1T French's Mustard
1/4tsp Garlic Powder
The first step is to form the meat into 1/4lb patties. These burgers are much thinner than your usual 1/4lb patty so I used 2 small plates and smashed each meatball into a patty 1/4inch thick. Stack them separated by wax paper and freeze completely. Get all your sauce seasoning ingredients ready by mixing together in a bowl until well blended. Get a frying pan (not nonstick!) searing hot and sear the burgers 3 mins on each side then set aside. Your pan should have a nice brown coating on the bottom (fond). Deglaze the pan with the water using 2C for a short final simmer or 3C for a long final simmer. Scrape up all the brown bits on the bottom and mix into the water then add your bowl of seasonings and mix well. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 2 minutes before adding onion rings. Simmer uncovered for 15 minutes then add burgers back in making sure they are covered with the sauce. If you used 2C water simmer for 15 minutes before serving, if you used 3C water simmer for 30-45 minutes. In either case the sauce should have reduced down to a gravy like thickness. To serve, split a potato roll, on the bottom place a patty and top with some onions and add a teaspoon of sauce to the top bun. These can also be served with cheese, lettuce and sliced tomato.
Remove onions from any leftover sauce and save sauce in the fridge, I'll get to a use for that in another recipe but in the meantime try it on a roast beef sandwich.