I know I’ve said eggs were the perfect food, but burgers are pretty high up on that list, too. And today is National Cheeseburger Day, so here we have the perfect burger with a crispy, lacy “collar” of cheddar. This is a serious burger and with crunch! There are a few truths about burgers we need to discuss before we get into the actual making of the burger. First, you want some fat in the ground beef—80/20 or 85/15 is a good ratio. If you use a 90/10, you might find the burger will be a tad dry…you know, sawdust-like. Not good. I prefer to use ground chuck. It has the best flavor, much better than sirloin or round. If you are lucky enough to have a butcher grind the meat, chuck, brisket and short-rib is THE perfect combination, but most of us have to settle for regular ground chuck. Secondly, the meat needs to be kept cold. I’m talking just a few degrees above freezing. You never, never, never bring your uncooked burgers to room temperature. What happens is that the fat begins to melt and it’s a recipe for a dry burger. That fat keeps the burger moist. Make certain to make a “depression” in the center of the burger, about the size of a silver dollar. This keeps the burger flat; it won’t become meatball-like. And finally, never, never, never press down on the burger as it cooks. Again, you’ll end up with a dry, cardboard-like disk which no one, not even the dog will want to eat! Those are the facts.
These are preferences, or rather The Goddess’s preferences. Use no more than 6 ounces of ground meat. I say “meat” because this applies to beef, pork, poultry or lamb. The Goddess doesn’t like a burger that’s so thick she needs to unhinge her jaw like an anaconda. You’ve had a burger like that; it’s really a large meatball. You see, The Goddess and her pack, they like toppings. And you really can’t get too much in the way of toppings on a thick, thick burger. The Goddess prefers a pan-seared burger to a grilled burger. It’s her thing, don’t question it; she likes a nice crust on her burgers. I think it’s probably a throw-back to her childhood. So many of our likes and dislikes stem from either great or horrific memories from our childhood. Her cooking weapon of choice is, cast iron, either a skillet or a griddle. We leave the burger a little bit pink in the middle. That helps with the juicy factor. The Goddess likes a bun that she can bite into and not fight with…ciabatta buns are out! She likes a large soft, flatter bun; a potato bun is perfect. And she likes it lightly toasted. As to condiments, The Goddess is all about thinly sliced, raw onion. She mounds it on top or she fries right into the burger, like the Oklahoma Burger (you can pop on over to seriouseats.com and check it our here). She likes caramelized onions, mayonnaise, pickles, bleu cheese(s), mustard, ketchup, etc. But, raw onions are a must. She’s not too keen on lettuce and tomato slices on a burger. She can never seem to keep the burger together. It slides around, too much and she becomes annoyed, which is not good. She will have her lettuce and tomato in a side salad, thank you very much. That’s about it. Oh yes, and bacon. Bacon is good on everything.
Later, I’ll post a Fried Egg Sandwich with a Crispy Cheese “Collar”. To make the “collar” is pretty simple. After you flip the burger, it will need to cook until it is almost ready to pull out of the skillet. The cheese will only take about 2 minutes to become crispy. Before you sprinkle the cheese around the burger, you’ll want to drain the fat off and make certain the burner is turned to at least medium-low. If not, the cheese can burn and the whole thing will be totally ruined. It will be a “Burned Mess Burger” and no one will want it then. This version is for The Youngest One, a double whammy of cheddar. As the cheese crisps, simply fold it over onto the burger. You’ll have a lovely, cheesy, crispy, cheesy delicious disc. The lacy collar brings to The Goddess’s mind those beautiful lace collar that Rembrandt painted on his rather somber sitters…you know the ones. This, “collar” too, is a thing of beauty. An art form, if you will. Then, you pop it onto the bun and dig in!
So you see, it’s really more about technique than anything. The Goddess likes to serve this burger with a salad (tossed salad, Sweet Mustard Summer Coleslaw, Classically Good Potato Salad, or pasta salad) and/or Spicy Sichuan Roasted Potatoes or Stove-Top Roasted Potatoes.