Hamburger recipes are a dime a dozen on the Internet and even in printed cookbooks. In the clamber to come up with the best or most impressive-looking hamburger, people seem to have forgotten that a good hamburger starts with really good meat. Then all you have to do is cook it right, put the right toppings on it, and put it on a good bun.
For this “recipe” for bacon cheeseburgers, I used all of the best ingredients that I could find, starting with really good fresh ground Limousin beef, Duroc bacon, farmers-market tomatoes, and fresh-baked challah buns.
- 2½ pounds of fresh ground beef
- 6 strips of thick-cut bacon
- 4‒6 slices of smoked cheddar
- Tomato slices
- Red onion slices
- Lettuce 4‒6 leaves
- challah or brioche buns
- Sliced pickles
Broiled Cheeseburger: Limousin Beef with Smoked Cheddar, Duroc Bacon, on a Fresh Challah Bun
- Pick up some GOOD ground beef. Fresh ground beef is always preferred to prepackaged bricks or chubs. Many smaller butcher shops grind their own hamburger still, so this should be easy to find. Then you must find out which ones taste the best. This may take time, but it’s worth it. A little tip: Grass-fed beef is widely considered to make a better burger, especially if you actually like the taste of beef. But for my money nothing beats high choice as in not quite prime chuck shoulder roll. This is the part of the chuck that meets the rib export, where the ribeye comes from. When you grind straight chuck you should end up with about 80/20 protein/fat ratio. Perfect for burgers.
- Shape the meat into hamburger patties. If you are using a quality (as in tasty) ground beef to make hamburgers, you won’t need to season them with anything, especially if you are cooking them just until they are pink in the middle still. Meat does actually contain a fair amount of salt, but when you cook it too much, it all cooks out. If you feel the need sprinkle the patties with a little salt and pepper. I used to be all about the big 8 oz patties but now I prefer a nice 5-6 ounce patty which is about 1/3 of a pound.
- Broil the hamburgers under the broiler. That being said a nice 1/2 pound will have less of a chance of being over-cooked under the broiler. Many oven broilers are kind of wimpy, resulting in a less-than-browned exterior before the inside of the hamburger gets overcooked. So an extra-thick burger will be more resilient to over-cooking and allow a nice browned exterior to develop. I like to broil my burgers two rungs from the top on high. Keep an eye on them! There will be smoke and maybe a few flareups so be ready to pull the batteries from the smoke detector. Just remember to put them back in. 🙂
- In the meantime, slice up the toppings. Most tomatoes you see these days are kind of pale and not ripe. I always look for the dark red tomatoes, usually a heirloom variety or a nice beefy baby grown in a hothouse. If you smell the tomato and it doesn’t have that smell. You know the one. The one that reminds you of being a kid in the garden and picking a fresh tomato for grandma. Which she would promptly ruin by putting sugar on it. No? Just me? Anyway don’t buy it. Those are not the kind of tomatoes you want on your burger. Secondly, you want a nice, thick, crispy bacon for the burgers. Extra-crispy bacon is done by draining the fat halfway through cooking. For more information on cooking bacon, read Pan-Fried Bacon.
- Continue broiling the hamburgers. After a few minutes, the hamburgers will begin to brown on top and around the edges. Flip them over using the spatula and broil them for two more minutes on the other side. Then flip back to other side for 2 minutes and then 1 more flip for 2 more minutes, Then remove them and check for doneness. They should be around rare to mid-rare at this point. Use a thermometer to get them done to your liking. 120 very rare, 125 rare, 130 medium rare, 135 medium, 140 medium well, 145 cooked through.
- Cheese the burgers and rest the meat. Once the burgers are close to done, put a slice of cheese on them and melt it under the broiler. Fold the cheese in half and then half again to keep it mostly on top of the burger, though the melty bits dripping off the side are a nice little snack. For these burgers I chose a nice smokey cheddar to go with the simple flavor of the meat. It was a good combination. Toasting the buns is always nice. And putting a little mayo on each side of the bun will help to keep it from getting soggy. Also a ring of onion is a good way to keep the condiments from squirting out the side. Like a little onion dam.
Tips & Tricks
- Use good-tasting ingredients and you won’t have to cover up their flavor with ketchup and other seasonings.
- Keep an eye on the hamburgers as they broil. They can get overcooked quickly.
- The temperature guide for cooked meat is as follows: 120 very rare, 125 rare, 130 medium rare, 135 medium, 140 medium well, 145 cooked through, 150 dog snack
- Also don’t forget to let the burgers rest for a few minutes after they have cooked. This will allow the juices to re-coagulate, which will help to keep them from running out of the meat when you bite or cut into it.