Hi there. It's Hugh. Sara had a super busy week with the day job and couldn't make it to the kitchen before the sun went down; she asked me if I could carry the torch... So, while I'm in charge, we're having cheeseburgers.
I'm a creature of habit. I could eat a cheeseburger every day, and if it weren't for Sara, I probably would. Luckily, she's around, knows what's good for me, and makes things taste good. That's not to say that I don't order the entrée in question nearly every time we go out.
Of all the burgers I've eaten, a few stand out- tallest among them is a burger from Mission Beach Cafe, in SF, a restaurant suggested by Heidi, and one from Vine, a local spot here in South OC. What I really like about both of these burgers, is that the ingredients are simple. What takes them to the next level, is the quality of ingredients and the method of preparation. You can add all sorts of creative, off the wall ingredients to spice up a burger, but I think it's tough to beat something that is straight forward and properly crafted.
After a recent indulgence at Vine, I decided that I was going to learn the art of cheeseburger. I read an article in Sara's Food and Wine magazine, googled a bit for some inspiration, and then started tossing things in as I went along. The resulting recipe turned out well. Not as simple as I imagined, but tastier. And mind you, I'm not much of a foodie, so I don't have spot on reasons for a lot of what follows, but the end result seems to have pleased the few people I've had over for lunch.
THE BACON CHEESEBURGER // Makes three cheeseburgers
1 lb. Grass Fed Beef, 80% Lean
1/4 Cup Bread Crumbs
1 Medium Yellow Onion, Diced
1 tsp. Fresh Thyme
Raw Milk White Cheddar, Shredded
6 Pieces of Crispy Bacon
3 English Muffins
Salt and Pepper
Whole Grain Mustard
More Garlic, minced
1. Fire up the grill, nice and hot. Mine tops out around 450', which seems to do the trick.
2. Start the bacon in a pan. Make sure it's crispy. I avoid the microwave.
3. Chop the onion, toss it in a bowl with the bread crumbs, thyme, garlic, salt and pepper. Break up the meat and throw that in as well. Make sure all the flavor elements combine with the meat, and form three patties about a half inch thick.
4. The measurements for the sauce are up to you. I usually rock roughly even parts, mayo and mustard, a healthy dose of garlic, and a splash of marsala. And maybe some black pepper as well.
5. Here's where things get weird. Put the patties in a 9x9 pan, and fill it up with cold water. Give them about 10 seconds to soak, then drop them on the grill. Add a little pat of butter to each side of the patties as they cook. Cook to desired doneness (I give them just a little more time on the grill than I used to, without the water bath, and I haven't over cooked one yet. At 450', I give them about 4 minutes on each side, flipping only once). Don't forget to add the cheese.
6. Pull the patties, cover them with foil, and let them rest for 5 minutes. Drop your muffin buns on the grill for a little toast.
7. A bit of sauce to each bun, patty, bacon, and arugula.