It’s cheeseburger day! Hoorah! Sounds like a great excuse to indulge in this iconic fast-food delicacy today (or any other day). However, instead of going out to buy one from a local fast-food chain, I decided to make some at home. I believe a good cheeseburger does not need a lot. A nice beef patty, a good sesame seed bun, zesty cheese, crisp lettuce, tomato, a pickle and onion…oh yeah, and the sauce of course. While making a cheeseburger is quite simple, there are some things you can do to create that perfect cheeseburger at home.
First of all, go to the local butchers and get some good quality ground beef. And don’t just go for that lean meat either! Get yourself some ground beef from a piece of meat with a little bit of fat mixed in, it will really make your burger juicy and full of flavor… I mean, you are going to eat a cheeseburger, so it’s not like you were going for a healthy meal anyway, am I right?
The bun is also important. We’ve used some homemade sesame buns over here (recipe may come up soon), but I can imagine most people will not have the time, or patience to make their own… a cheeseburger is supposed to be fast-food after all. So, when buying your buns, just make sure the buns are fluffy and light, but sturdy enough to hold a big beef patty, melted cheese and condiments… just forget about those super soft buns sold as ‘original’ hamburger buns and get some buns with a good crust. And don’t forget: always toast your buns. Always. While it’s nice to dig into a sloppy, cheesy burger, a soggy burger makes for a significantly less enjoyable experience.
So… what kind of cheese to pick for your cheeseburger? I don’t think there really is one specific cheese to pick for your cheeseburger, but I think we all agree the cheese has to turn gooey and melty. Though, while most people may be used to seeing those processed, plasticky, bright-orange American Cheddar slices that are so often used at fast-food places, I would recommend using a really good, sharp English Cheddar instead. Personally, I also like to use Emmental cheese on my burgers as it’s more commonly available over here and the cheese is very melty with a savory, but mild flavor.
As for the condiments, of course ketchup and mayonnaise are classics. However, everyone seems to really be into ‘secret’ and ‘special’ sauces lately. I mean, it does make a rather normal cheeseburger sound a bit mysterious, doesn’t it?
Well, as it is, the sauce should probably be called ‘not-so-secret’ sauce. While many restaurants, junk food places and home cooks have their own version of ‘secret’, or ‘special’ sauce, they all tend to have very similar ingredients. Mine’s no different. It’s probably just because the combination of the main ingredients – usually mayonnaise, ketchup, mustard and pickles – is a classic complement to a burger, bowl of fries, or hotdog already. And why decide on if you want ketchup, mayonnaise, or mustard anyway when you can have it all? While not that secret, or special… it really is tasty!
Classic Cheeseburger with ‘Secret’ Sauce
- For the burgers:
- 800g ground beef
- 1 small yellow onion, very finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Black pepper to taste
- 1 tablespoon sunflower oil
- 25g butter
- 4 sesame seed buns
- 8 slices of Emmental, or good Cheddar
- Lettuce leaves
- Red onion, cut into rings
- 1 tomato, sliced
- Dill pickles, sliced (optional, the sauce already has pickle in it)
- For the 'secret sauce':
- 8 tablespoons mayonnaise
- 2 tablespoons ketchup
- ½ tablespoon hot mustard
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tablespoon minced onion, very finely minced
- 3 small dill-pickles, very finely chopped (about 3 tablespoons)
- In a small bowl, combine ingredients listed for ‘secret sauce’. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
- In a bowl, combine beef, very finely diced onion, crushed garlic, pepper, salt, and smoked paprika. Divide the meat mixture into four equal parts and shape into patties. Try not to overwork the meat while shaping the patties or they will be tough. Make a slight indentation in the middle of each patty with your thumb so they will cook evenly. Place the patties on a tray or plate lined with parchment paper, or plastic wrap. Refrigerate for about 15 minutes.
- Cut open your burger buns and butter each cut side. Heat up a frying pan, or griddle pan and toast the buns on the buttered side until they turn slightly brown. Set aside.
- Turn up the heat under the griddle pan, or frying pan to high and brush with the sunflower-, or other vegetable oil.
- When the pan is really hot place the meat patties in the pan. Do not overcrowd the pan (you may have to cook them in several batches). After about 3 minutes, flip the patties and cook on the other side. After flipping, immediately place your slices of cheese on top of the patty. They will need about 3 minutes on one side and 2 minutes on the next side for a slightly pink inside. For a fully cooked inside fry patties for about 6 - 7 minutes in total.
- To assemble the cheeseburger, spread a heaped tablespoon of ‘special sauce’ on the bottom slice of each bun. Place patties on top of the sauced bun. Top with lettuce leaf, sliced tomato and onion. You can add some extra slices of dill pickle if you like (I do).