Cheeseburger Recipes To Try This Summer
Grab a bun, slap on a patty and add a little gooey cheese. What have you got? You have a classic cheeseburger -- an iconic American favorite. This mouthwatering backyard sandwich is more than a summer dish. It's a year-round favorite that dedicated grillers will brave rain, sleet and snow to prepare with just the right flame-kissed goodness. Whether you're passionate about cheeseburgers or not, you probably won't argue that they are one of the most common items on restaurant menus these days. They're also pretty kid friendly -- whether there's a toy surprise included in the price of a drive-thru meal or not.
Building a Basic Burger
Because they are so well loved, well-known and well -- delicious, cheeseburgers are available in lots of mouthwatering regional variations. They all have a few things in common -- when they're good, anyway. The meat should be juicy, and the bun should be soft and fresh. The cheese should be melted but not thin or runny, and there should be enough tasty condiments onboard to make every bite interesting. If you're a novice burger chef, these tips will help you build the best burger you ever tasted:
- Don't mess with the meat. Hamburger gets tough and chewy when it's handled too much, so form your patties quickly and be gentle.
- Fat is a good thing. Fat gives hamburgers flavor. Without fat a patty will taste grainy and tasteless. Prefer ground chuck with a ratio of about 20 percent fat to 80 percent meat. A lot of that fat will cook off during the grilling or frying process, so don't worry.
- Get the proportions right. For a standard hamburger bun, form your patties into 4 to 5 inch rounds that are about 3/4 of an inch thick.
- Don't press. Pressing patties with your spatula as they cook may pass the time, but it isn't doing much for your meat. You're ejecting valuable juices and creating a dry, tasteless burger. Flip the patties a couple of times during the cooking process, but never press or squeeze them.
- Add the cheese at the end. Place a slice of cheddar, Monterey jack, Swiss or American cheese on the patties about a minute before removing them from the heat. That way the cheese will melt slowly and be gooey but not runny when you add the bun and other fixings.
You may have heard of barbecued burgers, buffalo burgers, or mushroom burgers, but there are actually hundreds of regional burger variations you can try. Some are a stretch, like French inspired burgers that sport Gruyère cheese and garlic mayo on a French roll. Others are just silly, like Chinese burgers made with 5-spice powder and served in an eggroll wrapper. Both these examples will give you an idea of how burger variations usually work, though. They use regional ingredients as substitutes for classic burger condiments, seasonings or the beloved bun. They're a variety of fusion cuisine that can sometimes score pretty high on the delicious eats meter. Here are a few you might like to try:
- Bayou burger -This Cajun favorite calls for the addition of crumbled bleu cheese and fresh ingredients like lettuce, tomato and onion.
- California burger - This West Coast burger includes guacamole, sweet onion slices, lettuce, tomato and a thick slice of brick or Muenster cheese.
- Chili burger - You guessed it. Smother this burger in your favorite chili and top it off with chopped onion and shredded cheese.
- Hawaiian burger - Add a slice of ham (or bacon), a half cup of teriyaki sauce and a pineapple ring to a classic burger.
- Mushroom burger - Adding a half-cup of sautéed mushrooms to the top of a burger is one way to add flavor, moisture and variety. Some folks also like to include a dribble of mushroom gravy and a slice of Swiss cheese. If your cheeseburgers are getting predictable, transform them into mushroom burgers.
- Southern burger - Most burger recipes use salt and pepper to season the raw meat and may add more seasonings to the cooked patties. Southern burger patties are a little different. They are made with egg in the mixture and will often also include a filler like breadcrumbs. This creates a meatloaf soft burger with lots of moisture and flavor.
- Texas burger - For a Texas burger, include hot sauce in the raw hamburger mixture, and dress the grilled beef burger with plenty of barbecue sauce and pepper cheese. For complete authenticity, serve this one on Texas toast.
- Tex-Mex burger - Dress this burger with guacamole, salsa and hot peppers.
Just because you're avoiding animal products doesn't mean you can't have a big juicy burger. There are a number of ways you can steer clear of beef and use a flavorful meat substitute to decorate a bodacious bun. Try grilling a large portabella mushroom instead of a beef patty. To lose some of the moisture, remove the dark brown gills on the underside of the mushroom cap. Remove the stem, too.
If the idea of eating a big mushroom doesn't appeal to you, these other options, either alone or in combination, could make the perfect non-meat middle of a burger:
- Hummus (mashed chickpeas)
- Black beans
- Grilled or fried tofu
Ingredients Your Family Will Love
You can see that the addition of well-loved local ingredients can transform a classic burger into a regional favorite. There are dozens (and dozens) of ingredients you can add to a plain burger to give it pizzazz. Don't limit yourself to just a few. Here are some burger toppings and condiments you might like to try:
- Pepper cheese
- Bleu cheese
- Ballpark mustard
- Spicy mustard
- Honey mustard
- Barbecue sauce
- Steak sauce
- Teriyaki sauce
- Thousand Island dressing
- Ranch dressing
- Sweet onion
- Bell pepper rings