I’m a cheese person at heart, so it should go without saying that I love a good cheeseburger recipe. I am not, however, a purist. While I can appreciate the joys of a standard burger with a slap of American cheese on top, I’m always looking for ways to improve and explore.
This may be sacrilege to some, but I like to mix other ingredients into my ground meat to play with the burger’s flavor and texture. It was only a matter of time, then, before I added shredded cheese in an attempt to concoct the ultimate melty, meaty experience. My first experiment was so promising that I kept testing it until I perfected the idea. Below you will find a cheeseburger recipe that is the result of over six months of testing. Quite simply, it’s the best burger I’ve ever had.
One thing I learned through several iterations of this recipe: a moderate hand plays well with this method. Otherwise, you risk changing your burger’s texture too much—a huge heap of cheese will make your burger fall apart in the pan. There’s no way around it. So go easy on the cheese. You can always add a little more to the top, after it’s mostly done cooking.
It’s my firm belief that a cheeseburger is only as good as the cheese you use to make it. You can have the best beef known to mankind, you can have the freshest bun crisped perfectly on the grill, and you can even have thick slices of farm-fresh organic tomatoes pulled that very morning crowning the whole ordeal. But, in my book, if you deface all that goodness with a slice of Velveeta (or similarly soulless “processed cheese food”) the whole thing collapses into a puddle of disappointing dairy dregs.
My favorite cheese for this cheeseburger recipe is Cowgirl Creamery’s Wagon Wheel, a luscious table cheese that is semi-firm in texture, notably salty without being overly so, and carries with it a sweet-nutty flavor that seduces a burger like no other cheese I’ve tried. That said, you can easily incorporate any superlative cheddar or similarly semi-firm cheese into this recipe and produce impressive results. You might also try Vella Dry Jack, Kerrygold Mild White Cheddar, Tillamook cheddar, or a particularly lovely manchego.
If you want a nice, firm cheeseburger, soft cheeses don’t work so well here. They thin out too much when melted, causing your burger to turn into the world’s creamiest sloppy Joe. (But who says that’s a bad thing?! Go ahead and mix your meat with your favorite soft, melty cheese before frying, toss the whole thing with cooked pasta, and create your own personal version of a gourmet Hamburger Helper!)
You’re more than welcome to use pre-ground beef and pork in this cheeseburger recipe, but I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the experience of grinding your own meat for burgers. Not only are you limiting your experience to the meat of one or two animals – potentially safer when you consider how many may be involved in a single pound of pre-ground beef – but you’ll notice a huge improvement in the flavor and texture of your burger. The added bonus is that you can choose which cut of meat you want depending on your mood, or, like we’ve done here, you can mix and match different kinds of meat. I particularly love lamb in my burger, if you’re into the sheep-y goodness.
Kenji did a great post on comparing different methods for grinding burger meat, and down in the middle is some advice for using a food processor. His most important piece of advice? Make sure your meat is very chilled before grinding, to prevent it from smearing all over the place. Another tip: If you’re grinding more than one cut or kind of meat, grind them in separate batches to accommodate the specific texture of each cut. You’ll end up with a superior burger if you grind each cut of meat by itself.
Ultimate Cheeseburger Recipe with Artisan Cheese
- 3/4 pound boneless pork top round (see note above)
- 3/4 pound boneless beef chuck (see note above)
- 1/4 pound mild cheddar cheese grated
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly-ground black pepper
- 4 burger buns
- 8 leaves of Romaine lettuce
- 2 whole beefsteak tomatoes sliced thick
- Trim any sinew or tough connective tissue from pork and beef. Cut the pork and beef into 1-inch cubes and place in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet or two large plates (see note above). Set the plate in the freezer for 15 minutes. Remove from the freezer and place 1/3 of meat in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until finely chopped but not mushy, 10 to 15 short pulses. Transfer ground meat to large bowl and repeat with remaining two batches.
- Add the shredded cheese to the bowl with the meat. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Using your hands, gently fold the meat and cheese until well combined. Form the meat into four wide, flat patties about 1 1/2-inches thick. Place the patties on a plate and allow them to sit, covered, for 20 minutes.
- Heat a heavy-bottomed non-stick pan over medium flame. Fry the burgers two at a time, if your pan's size will allow it. Heat the burgers until they are well-browned and crisp on one side, then flip them over and repeat. Once the burgers are done, place them on a bun with lettuce and tomato. Repeat with the remaining burgers. Serve immediately.
This content was originally posted on FearlessFresh.com.