Monday, May 13, 2013

two hundred and forty-one

Growing up in a vegetarian household, I didn't really "get" the love that many Americans profess for burgers.  Though tasty enough, they were mostly just vehicles for enabling mass consumption of cheese.  (Land'o'Lakes American, thank you very much.)  Then, as most of my stories go, I met my husband.  The second the weather began to warm for the year, my father in law would go into a primal trance and spend every weekend manning the grill producing enough meat for every man, woman, and child within smelling distance.  At first, all of that grilled meat was kind of off putting, but it wasn't long before I was sitting at my mother in law's kitchen table and making towers of burger patties for whatever gathering was happening that weekend.

Though I still consider the cheese a highlight of a burger, I now appreciate the patty's charred outside and juicy inside about as much as I appreciate a good steak.  Even more than the taste, I appreciate the frugality of a homemade semi-gourmet burger, so I try to make them at least once a month in the summer.  I bake challah rolls, think up interesting mayonnaise flavors, and try to work out a mathematical equation to calculate the maximum number of different toppings any given burger can hold (that number is known as the MTR or Maximum Topping Ratio).  Usually, it's great.  Sometimes, meh.  Rarely, a choir of angels having a rave in my mouth.

The burger I'm about to share with you is one of those angel raves, therefore I recommend you make it as soon as possible.  Preferably yesterday.  (Make extra patties for lunch, too.)  Oh, and not having a grill is no excuse; this recipe is apartment-friendly.

The World's Best Cheeseburger

1/3 cup mayonnaise
1/2 teaspoon powdered Ancho chiles

1 pound 93% lean ground beef
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon salt
freshly ground black pepper

4-8 slices Swiss cheese
1 tablespoon butter, divided
4 large hamburger buns (I'll post my recipe later this week)
1/2 red onion
1 large, ripe tomato
2 cups arugula
4 eggs

Mix 1/3 cup mayonnaise with 1/2 teaspoon Ancho chile powder.  Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or until you're ready to assemble your burgers.

Add 1 pound ground beef, 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce, 1 teaspoon salt, and as much freshly ground pepper as you'd like to a large bowl.  Use your hands to gently mix everything together.  Please refrain from squishing the beef or you'll have crumbly burgers.  Divide the meat into four equal pieces, then form the meat into patties that are slightly bigger than your hamburger rolls.

Put 1/2 tablespoon of butter into a large skillet.  Place the skillet over medium heat and allow the butter to melt.  When the butter is bubbling, gently slide the burger patties into the hot skillet.  Cook to your desired doneness; I cooked mine for 3 minutes per side and it came out medium-rare.  1 minute before you remove the burgers from the pan, top each patty with a slice of cheese.

Remove the cheeseburgers from the pan and place on a plate.  Do not turn off the heat.  Place the hamburger buns cut-side down on the hot pan.  (You may have to do this is two batches.)  Toast for 30 to 45 seconds or until browned.  Remove the buns from the pan and set aside.

Thinly slice the red onion; set aside.  Cut the tomato into 1/4" slices.  Place the tomatoes in the pan and sprinkle with salt and pepper, if desired.  Fry the tomatoes in the pan until they're slightly browned, then remove to a paper towel-lined plate.

Reduce the heat to medium-low.  Add the remaining 1/2 tablespoon of butter to the pan.  Once the butter melts, crack the eggs into the pan and fry them for 3-5 minutes or until the whites are set.  Remove the eggs to a paper towel lined plate.  (You can finally turn off the pan now, by the way.)

 To assemble the burgers: Spread the top and bottom half of the bun with as much Ancho mayonnaise as you would like, then top with some red onion slices.  If you're being gluttonous, add another slice of cheese, then top with grilled tomatoes.  Place the burger patty on top of the tomatoes, then add the fried egg, and arugula.  Top the whole thing off with the other half of the bun.  Repeat with the other three burgers.


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