Mmm, burgers. When I stopped eating red meat in high school, it was around that time mad-cow disease turned up in America at some factory farm and I decided a steak wasn't worth foaming at the mouth. (This was before I had any notion that you didn't have to get meat from a grocery store.) I didn't miss red meat too much, until I got to college and suddenly had inexplicable cravings for cheeseburgers. Around this time my best friend Jordan also started eating meat again in the form of burgers, and her explanation was: "It's the meat! And the cheese! In the bun!" There were some accompanying hand gestures but you probably don't need them- you already know, deep in your heart, what she was talking about. The magic of the cheeseburger.
For One Best Cheeseburger Ever
Burgers are great for many reasons, clearly, but a big one is that local meat can be more expensive than what you find in your local grocery stores. Ground beef, however, is still relatively economical at your local farmer's market, ranging from $4-5 per pound. My ground beef comes from T-5 Farms ($5/lb) and I also used brie-style cheese from Hillsborough Cheese Co., Lusty Monk "Original Sin" mustard from Asheville and an onion from Lyon Farms. I use my home-made burger buns for basically every sandwich including this one; they're also from Smitten Kitchen. I make them once in a while, keep them in the freezer and pop them out when needed. But you can use any bun here, just make sure it's not one of those squishy ones. It will not stand up to this burger.
This way of cooking burgers was brought to my attention by Smitten Kitchen, via the New York Times. It's a way of cooking burgers indoors with the stovetop/oven, so they turn out perfectly every time. You can do this on a grill, just follow the basic recipe and move burgers to indirect head where the recipe says put them in the oven.
For One Best Cheeseburger Ever
1/2 lb ground beef
Dash of Worcestershire sauce
Salt and Pepper
1+ tablespoon triple-creme Brie or Camembert
1 tablespoon spicy, grainy mustard
1/4 onion, cut in thin slices
1 sturdy burger bun
- Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees.
- Cook onions in a glug of olive oil over medium heat, stirring until they start to soften. Turn the heat to low and cook another 10 minutes, stirring until the onions are golden in color. Remove from heat and set aside.
- Mix beef, Worcestershire, salt and pepper together gently with your hands. Do not overwork. Shape into a patty about 1 inch thick. Make an indent in the center with your thumb -- this keeps it from becoming a ball-shape once heated, an issue when eating the burger.
- Heat a cast-iron or other oven-safe pan on high heat on the stove-top. I like to use a cast-iron grill pan because it makes the pretty grill marks but any oven-safe pan will do.
- Cook your burger(s) in the grill pan on each side for 2 minutes, then immediately put the pan into the oven. Leave for 4 minutes. Remove for medium-rare (or cook for 2 more minutes for medium.)
- While burgers are in the oven, pop the buns in a toaster or oven to warm them, then spread the mustard on the lower half of the bun, and spread the brie on the top half. Put onions on top of the mustard, top with burger patty, and then with the top half of the bun.
- Multiply as needed.
Voila! You can, of course, do whatever you want to your burger but I find minimalism on the toppings keeps eating easy and not an epic mess. My husband ordered a burger with fried onions on it recently and the monster was a foot high. When he was finished eating it looked like he had been in a battle.
Corinne lives in Chapel Hill, NC, with her husband Jeremy and their two dogs. She loves to cook, and eat, and that's why she let Sarah talk her into training for a triathlon in October. Oh dear.