I've been waiting for weeks for America's Test Kitchen to choose a Blogger Challenge that I felt confident in conquering, and this week it finally came. It was almost like fate ... On Sunday I made some of the most delicious burgers ever grilled, but decided to save the post for another night. Monday morning, I saw @TestKitchen tweet about this week's burger challenge and I felt like I'd experienced divine intervention. Clearly, something was telling me to postpone that post for a reason!
We make a lot of burgers in our house, especially during the summer when my husband basically lives over the grill. While Bill often mimics Bobby Flay, I usually turn to my most trusted source, America's Test Kitchen, for recipe inspiration.
Well, they were certainly on the right track with their Cook's Country All-American Burger, which mixes traditional toppings like bacon and cheese into the meat. But in true Midwest fashion, Minnesota has taken the "contained ingredients" technique a step further. Why have cheese scattered throughout your burger patty when you can take one big, juicy bite and reveal an oozing, cheese-licious center? Thus, I give you the Juicy Lucy.
I was first introduced to the Juicy Lucy with an episode of Man v. Food on the Travel Channel, where Adam Richman visited Minneapolis and two dives both claiming to be the originators of this burger: The 5-8 Club and Matt's Bar. Just a 6-hour drive and my husband and I had a chance to experience this ourselves ... and it was worth the trip! With me and the Juicy Lucy, it was love at first bite.
I know I'm not a Midwest native ... I'm just a humble transplant. But that doesn't mean I can't appreciate the genius of ooey, gooey, oh-so-melty cheese stuffed inside of a burger! In fact, I can't believe you don't see this more often and I can't believe it took an episode of Man v. Food for me to be exposed to this delicacy. Naturally, I needed to perfect it myself (since a 6-hour drive for a burger isn't do-able more than once a year ... although it's tempting). I think I've succeeded in creating something to give the 5-8 and Matt's a run for their money. On the outside it's just an unsuspecting burger. But on the inside my Juicy Lucy is bold and bursting with flavor ... literally!
Jen's Juicy Lucy
Makes 6 burgers
2 lbs. ground beef
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons steak seasoning (such as McCormick Grill Mates Montreal Steak)
Salt and pepper
6 slices American cheese
Olive oil, for brushing
6 hamburger buns
Assorted burger toppings
In a large bowl, combine beef, Worcestershire, steak seasoning, and salt and pepper. Mix thoroughly with your hands. Divide mixture into 6 equal parts, then shape each sixth into 2 thin patties (about 1/3-inch thick). (For those of you who are mathematically challenged like me, you should now have a total of 12 patties!).
Top 6 of your patties with cheese. (Note that a slice of cheese will likely be too large to be sandwiched between 2 patties. I recommend cutting each slice into fourths and creating little stacks to nestle in the center of each burger.) Place a plain patty atop each cheese-topped patty and pinch the edges together to ensure the cheese is encased by the beef.
Place burgers on a platter and allow to rest in the fridge for about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare your grill.
When coals are ready and grill grate is hot, remove burgers from fridge and brush a small amount of olive oil over both sides of each patty (this is easier - and less dangerous - than greasing the grill!). Grill burgers until well-seared on both sides, about 10 to 12 minutes total. Serve on toasted buns with your favorite toppings (I suggest onions, jalapeno relish, and ketchup, all topped off with a pickle slice!).
Before I made the original beef and American cheese version of the Juicy Lucy, I also attempted the sandwiched cheese technique with turkey burgers and Monterey Jack (pictured at right). I have to admit, it's tough to choose which I liked better! At the end of the day, I think you just can't go wrong with a hot, juicy burger oozing delicious, melting cheese. Now I have visions of more varieties ... a Greek burger stuffed with feta and topped with tzatziki, an Italian-seasoned burger stuffed with mozzarella and topped with roasted red peppers, a steakhouse burger stuffed with bleu cheese and topped with caramelized onions ... the list goes on and on. But the original is a true American classic that just can't be beat!