I love cheeseburgers. They’re my second-favorite food after pizza and I appreciate them in many forms: In-N-Out,1 Red Robin,2 Coastline, Five Guys,3 Kidd Valley, Star Brass Works Lounge Bar Tavern Restaurant & Grill.4
Quick aside: Burgers must be served with fries, and Philip Michaels perfectly rank-ordered the form-factors.
Fries, ranked.— Philip Michaels (@PhilipMichaels) August 8, 2014
3. Sweet potato
6. Garbage shaped like a fry
7. Steak fries
But sometimes you want to eat at home and cook your own food, and cheeseburgers, unlike Eggs Benedict,5 I can competently make. My approach, documented here, mainly for me.
- 1 lb ground beef, 80% (or 20% fat, if you prefer to think about it that way)
- Salt and pepper
- 4 slices American “cheese”6
- 4 buns (If you live in Seattle the Macrina Bakery Brioche and Rustic Potato buns are 💋; sadly, that’s not what I used in the photos below.)
- Butter, or rendered bacon fat if you’re a baller
- Ketchup, mayonnaise, and mustard
- Cheeseburger vegetables I suppose, if you’re in to that sort of thing
- Preheat your grill. Get it searing hot, and I mean hot.7 If your grill sucks your burgers will suck. It needs to get hot and have even heating. I have the Weber Spirit E310, which was favorably reviewed by both the The Sweethome and America’s Test Kitchen.
- Form four patties and season generously with salt and pepper. The patties should be thin, over an inch larger in diameter than your buns, as they’ll shrink at least that much when they cook. There’s no need to mix any crap into the meat. The flavor comes from the salt-accentuated fat. (You got the 20% right?) No, keep going, more salt and pepper. Most of it’s going to fall off anyway when you put these on the grill.
- While you’re grilling the first side, apply your spreadable fat of choice on the buns then get them toasting on the grill.
- When you start to see blood-tinged fat starting to render from the top8 it’s time to flip. See how pretty? Hot grill = grill marks.
- Apply the cheese and cackle in glee at how delicious it looks as you cook the other side for another 3–4 minutes.
- Your buns probably finished at some point during this process. Bun toasting is mostly because toasty buns are awesome, but the desiccation also prevents them from getting soggy.
- Burgers assemble! Don’t forget your condiments and vegetables.
Warning: depending on how many friends or kids you have, you may need to double the recipe. I can normally eat two of these unless there are a lot of fries and other dishes.
And a quick shout-out to my sister, who got me a battery-powered, LED headlamp for Christmas, which lets me grill in the dark of winter, and also explains the slightly washed out pictures of the grilling process.
Number 2, animal style ↩
Royal Burger, some pink. Sadly, steak fries, so I go sweet potato. ↩
Not a huge fan of their fries actually, see below. ↩
Double Tavern Burger with fries, no pickle. Amazing shoestring fries. ↩
I mean, when the first line in the top Google result is, “making eggs benedict requires careful orchestration”, well, that’s not going to happen. I mean the key ingredient (hollandaise) is its own nested recipe beyond the abilities of most people without a thermomix. ↩
Don’t judge. It’s going to be amazing, just you wait. ↩
I realize I should use artisanal, sustainable, hard-wood charcoal imported from Portland, but I use natural gas because I care about eating this decade more than I care about the marginal impact to global warming. There, I said it. ↩
Is that gross? I suppose, but we’re eating a dead animal raised specifically for that purpose. If you haven’t found a way to come to peace with that yet I’m sorry to have triggered you right then. ↩