Saturday, May 08, 2010

Yet Another Cheeseburger

My favorite among various claims as to who came up with the first cheeseburger is Lionel Clark Sternberger, who, according to Time magazine, "experimentally dropped a slab of American cheese on a sizzling hamburger while helping at his father's sandwich shop in Pasadena, thereby inventing the cheeseburger." That would have been in 1924. Of course we also get a lot of negative stuff about cheeseburgers, so it's interesting, and perhaps ironic, to note the Time obit for Sternberger also notes that he died at the age of 56 of "complications following diabetes."
Nevertheless, I suppose cheeseburgers (basically a hamburger with cheese) are one thing we can cite as typically "American" food, in the sense that it's probably what people think of first, just as we think first of sushi as Japanese food or spaghetti as Italian or sauerkraut as German.
As long as we're stuck with it, we might as well make the best of it. So, "experimentally," I offer another alternative cheeseburger recipe. If you want more recipes for cheeseburgers, plus a lot more information about cheeseburgers than you would probably ever need, try the site.
This particular cheeseburger involves the following ingredients:
1/2 pound of ground buffalo (or lean ground beef with as little fat content as possible)
1 or 2 strips of bacon
1/2 a wheel (sliced through the middle, in other words) of Camambert or Brie cheese.
A handfull of finely chopped garlic
Rosemary and basil to taste
Red wine
1 Tbsp. olive oil
Coarsly ground black pepper

The prep

Form half the ground meat into a circle, forming an edge with a spoon. This will be the "container" for the cheese wheel.
Chop the mushrooms and combine with the chopped garlic, rosemary and basil and add to the ground meat base.
Form the other half of the ground meat into a circle and place it over the bottom, patting the two together so they are sealed. Apply the bacon strip (or strips) around the edge of the meat patty.
Add the olive oil to a cast-iron skillet. I have a small one about 7 inches in diameter, which is just right for this project.
Place the patty in the center of the skillet.
Sprinkle a splash or two of red wine over the top of the patty and add the black pepper.
Bake in a 350F (160C) oven for at least 30 minutes (for medium-rare) or longer, depending on how well-done you want it.
Remove the baked patty from the fry pan (gently, with a spatula) and allow the excess juice to be soaked up by paper towels, or drain on a cooling rack.
That's it. This burger is fine with or without the lettuce, pickles, tomato and so on, and works well on crusty bread, most likely washed down with the rest of that red wine.
You may also want to look at the entry on french fries here as a side.

The pictures show the way to build up the edge of the first meat patty like a pie, to hold the cheese and the mushroom-garlic mixture before adding the cover layer of meat.

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