Zara and I recently attended a rather long yet pleasant graduation ceremony for one of our family members and while contemplating food options I turned to her and said: Burgers‽ She loved the idea, so burgers it was.
I never really thought I’d be writing about hamburgers here since I always thought of them as too easy of a topic to talk about, but this particular combination really exceeded my expectations, and here we are. Burgers are the perfect comfort food and don’t require a lot of over-thinking, just the right balance of ingredients, flavors, and textures.
One night a while back I stayed up very late and ended up buying the Stufz burger stuffer that I obsessed over while watching a silly informercial. I actually can’t believe that I ended pulling the trigger on it, but this tool is probably one of the best gadgets I’ve gotten in a long time and to some degree even game-changing.
THE MAKINGS OF A JUICY LUCY
A Juicy (or Jucy) Lucy originally hails from Minneapolis and it’s as simple as it gets: a burger patty stuffed with cheese. But from here one can take it in many directions such as trying out different types of cheese or a combination of a few, stuffing it with a perfectly poached sous vide egg, or adding chopped herbs, onions, you get the picture….
On this particular occasion I did not grind my own meat, which I highly recommend for increased freshness and to avoid any potential bacteria from store-bought ground meat. If grinding at home, pick up some chuck or any preferred protein of your choice ahead of time and bring it through a grinder prior to shaping the patties.
- Burger seasoning: Kosher salt & ground black pepper to taste, 1/2 tsp of onion powder, 1/2 tsp of cumin powder, 1/2 tsp of garlic powder
- 1/4 pound ground beef & 1/4 pound ground pork or more as needed
- A few slices of cheddar cheese (I used Tillamook)
- 4 green onions
- 1 red onion
- 2 small poblano peppers
- 1 jalapeño
- A few spoonfuls of fig jam
- A fistful of chopped pancetta or bacon
- 2 brioche buns
- A few spoonfuls of mayonnaise
- 1 large tomato
- A few butter lettuce leaves
I really enjoy the half beef/half pork combination, which adds the right balance of flavors.
Mix the ground meat and add the seasoning. It could be as simple as salt and pepper or my spice blend above. Continue mixing and form into a patty shape. This doesn’t need to be perfect if using the Stufz stuffer. If so, drop the round piece of meat into the burger stuffer and press down. This will leave some space where you can add your stuffing (as pictured below), in this case we’ll add some chopped cheddar cheese slices. Add the top part of the patty, press again to close and repeat this step again with the rest of the meat.
We are going for one inch or larger thick patties, which will determine the right cooking technique used, in this case, indirect grilling.
Place the patties in the refrigerator to chill until ready to grill.
Grill the red onion slices, poblanos, jalapeño, and green onions until they’re soft. The red onions should be done, but should also have a bit of a bite so only grill for about two minutes tops on each side. They can also be served raw if you prefer it that way.
For the burger topping, remove the grilled poblanos, jalapeño, green onions, and set aside. Deseed the jalapeño and poblanos and chop them up together with the green onions. There is no need to peel the jalapeño and poblanos unless that’s your preference. I personally like a little char on mine.
This will produce a great green topping with some heat from the jalapeño.
On a hot pan, sauteé the chopped pancetta for a few minutes until done and towards the end add a few spoonfuls of the fig jam. Alternatively, you can also use a caramelized onion and bacon jam instead.
This step can be done ahead of Step 2. Slice up the tomato and rip off a few butter lettuce leaves and wash thoroughly. Individually season each thickly-cut tomato slice (one per burger) with a touch of kosher salt and ground black pepper.
We are going to use a two-zone approach when grilling the burgers. At this point we quickly sear the burgers on direct heat to get a nice char on both sides, then we’ll move them away from the direct heat source into the indirect zone so they can cook to our liking.
Once the burgers are done, set aside and allow them to rest for about 3 to 4 minutes to let the juices redistribute themselves within the meat for a kickass juicy burger.
A few minutes before the burgers are done, add the brioche buns on the grill to toast on the flat side down until they get a brownish finish. This will add some friction before adding the condiment on.
Once the buns are done, spread the bottom side with the pancetta-fig jam and the top side with a nice dollop of mayonnaise before placing the butter lettuce on the mayo after spreading across the bun.
As a finishing touch before serving, add the tomato slice just above the burger and top with the chopped greens in a small mound before placing the onion slices above as the last step. Not only does this look aesthetically pleasing, but the rings also help to avoid the chopped greens from spilling over once you bite into the succulent burger.