I was a strange kid. When peers were buying toys and clothes, I was saving my allowance to go out for dinner, but not to the local McDonald’s – it was Manhattan or bust. My parents would get the New York Times every Sunday and I would leaf through looking for restaurant ideas. The Russian Tea Room, Le Cirque, Lutèce, Delmonico’s, The 21 Club. They were fascinating and represented a world that was both foreign and glamorous. Ginormous vases of flowers, insanely decorated interiors. Lavish. Decadent…and oh so far away from suburban NJ Dorothy.
So what, you might ask, was my favourite childhood meal? The answer would be SWEETBREADS😉 Nope. Hahaha! It was a cheeseburger. From the age of 7 until 12 I would order the same meal. Cheeseburger, french fries and a salad, with lots of ketchup please. To this day it remains one of my all time favourite dishes. When done right it is simple perfection on a bun. We all eat ‘em – but how many times have you had a truly great one? Remember the Mom ‘bugers that Eddy Murphy used to joke about? Oh NO!
Here is my take on a classic – the one, the only Cheeseburger!
Cheeseburgers with Caramelized Onions and Aged Cheddar – Ingredients
Aged Cheddar (sliced or crumbled, use as much as you like)
1 lb Ground Chuck
1 lb ground marbled brisket
4 Hamburger Rolls
The beef is the single most important ingredient. It should be high in fat content – I have read anywhere from 20 – 40??! % fat. We always go to an organic butcher. For me – burgers are to be cherished and as such are not the cheap treat we have been conditioned to expect. A great combination is chuck and brisket.
Keep it simple avoid eggs, herbs, spices and vegetables. I like mine w. lots of sea salt and some finely chopped parsley (although purists would slap my hand). Make the patties 1/2 lb each and approximately 3/4 inch thick. Flatten slightly in the middle to avoid the patty looking more like a meatball. Refrigerate for an hour before they are cooked. Heat a cast iron skillet to medium high and place the patties down to fry. Do not flatten them with your spatula. Fry for about 4 1/2 minutes untouched to allow the patty to seal and brown (I personally like them to be slightly crispy). Then flip and allow to fry for another 4 1/2 minutes. IMHO mid rare burgers taste best but if you prefer them rare it’s closer to 4 minutes and for medium you can fry them for approximately 6.
Before you make the patties caramelize the onions – set them aside and slice the cheese. When the burgers are being fried on the second side put the cheese on the patties during the last 2 minutes and place a lid on the skillet to help melt the cheese.
To be honest the bread can make or break a burger. You can keep the whole wheat buns! I personally LOVE the brioche hamburger rolls that Fred’s Bread sells. One trick that puts a burger over the top is to fry the buns in the hamburger juice before you serve them. After I take the patties out of the pan I will add a bit more oil and fry the buns cut side down until till they are crisp and brown. MMMMMMM.