Last time here on Killer Food, we discussed preparing and cooking with charcoal, and it's high-time we put some food onto those beautiful briquettes. If you lack grilling capacity, this recipe is versatile enough that it can be cooked in a skillet or on a griddle as well. The very first step, and this step is mandatory, is to take a look around and make sure nobody is watching. This recipe is top-secret. I'm sharing it with you, the esteemed members of Stray Monkey, and you alone. If done well (and it's easy to do this well) these burgers will be requested of you at every cookout you attend.
What You'll Need:
- 2lbs ground beef – Get the 80/20 kind (80% lean, 20% fat). Nobody eats a burger to be healthy. And get fresh! Frozen ground meat makes me cry.
- 8oz bleu cheese – Quality is important here. You don't have to get the $10/lb stuff, but go to a respectable grocer and spend a little money. It doesn't matter if it's crumbled or in a block, we'll be forming it into patties soon enough.
- 4 Hamburger Buns – This is really up to you. I really like using kaiser rolls here, but use what you like. Just please stay away from the flat, chemical laden, fluorescent white "hamburger buns." Trust me. It's worth it.
- 2oz Bourbon – And no I don't mean sour mash whiskey. Kentucky straight bourbon. Again this is an ingredient where you can choose what you like, but I wouldn't use the good stuff. Save that for sipping with your cigar after the meal. Nine times out of ten I'll use Jim Beam. It's affordable and delicious.
- Seasonings – The following measurements are approximations. Measuring spoons are for baking.
- Salt – 1 Tbsp
- Black Pepper – 2 tsp – fresh ground please
- Thyme – 2 tsp – dried is perfectly acceptable, otherwise chop really well
- Worcestershire Sauce – 2 tsp – Say it with me, "Worshter Sauce."
- Red Pepper Flakes – 1 tsp
How To Do It:
The first thing we are going to do, is form our bleu cheese patties. I'd recommend wearing gloves (make sure if latex to get the non-powdered kind). This prevents the heat from your hands from melting the cheese. If you bought it in block form, break it away into small chunks first. You need to make 4 cheese patties so divide up the cheese equally and squeeze them in your hands until they hold together. Place them on a plate and put in the fridge to keep cold.
Now we need to make the burger patties. Combine the ground meat, seasonings, and 1oz of the bourbon into a large bowl. Using your hands, combine everything until it is evenly distributed. Did I mention you should use your hands? And don't over mix it please. Over mixing makes meatloaf, and while we will cover that in a future Man Food article, today we're making burgers. We'll be forming a total of 8 patties at 4oz each. If you're not comfortable judging the weight, and don't want to bother with a scale, divide the meat mixture into 8 parts of equal size. Boom! You just measured 4oz 8 times! Now one-by-one, take each patty into the palm of your hand, and use the heal of your other hand to push into a round, flat, disc. We want this to be thin, quarter-inch thin. Uniform roundness is far from important, so don't stress about the shape, just the thickness.
Now we make magic! Get your cheese discs out of the fridge and lay everything out a nice big work surface. Take one beef patty in your hand, and put one bleu cheese disc in the middle of it. Take a second beef patty and lay it on top so that you sandwich the cheese disc between two beef patties. Cupping your hands, push together the edges of the two beef patties so that they stick together and form one, cohesive burger. Don't squeeze or the cheese disc will move away from the middle, and that would be bad. When the burger is formed, press down in the top slightly with your thumb, leaving a small indent.
Now you should have 4 rather massive looking burgers. Place all 4 burgers onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. If you don't have parchment paper, use foil. If you don't have foil, go buy some. Place the sheet into the fridge for at least half an hour. This will really help to keep the burgers together prior to cooking. Use this time to enjoy that single barrel small batch bourbon I talked you out of using for the burgers earlier. On the rocks or neat, your choice. This is also the perfect time to start your charcoal. So go do that too.
Now I know this will sound redundant, but after chilling our burgers we need to get them up to room temperature. Cold meat cooks unevenly and can cause horrible sticking problems. So let the burgers sit out (covered loosely with foil or plastic wrap) for about 10 minutes. By now your coals are ready, your guests are hungry, and you're ready to cook! Using a clean rag, dip it in some oil (vegetable, canola, peanut), grab it with your tongs, and brush your grill grate with the oil. This will help season the grate and prevent sticking. Place the burgers evenly directly over the coals, and enjoy the heavenly sound of meat bearing seared over direct heat. Now you remember that extra ounce of bourbon? No, we're not going to drink it. Pour a quarter of it into each dimple you pushed into your burgers. If some of it spills out, that's fine.
The burger will take around 4 minutes per side to get to medium-rare, but this is going to depend on your coals. When you flip the burger, use a spatula, and do it quickly. You'll hear a big hiss from the excess bourbon pouring onto the hot coals, but don't worry, they're hot enough to keep going. After another 4 minutes, take off the grill and put on a plate to rest. Take your buns (if they're not split yet, please do so) and place the cut side directly on the grill. They'll toast quickly so don't ignore them. You want minimal browning, ideally just the grill marks should be brown.
After your meat has rested at least 5 minutes, you can assemble the burgers. I recommend against cutting them in half prior to serving, as seeing the cheese gooze (gooey-oozing) out is half the fun. You can put condiments on the burger, but I like mine straight up.
When your guests ask you what kind of burgers they are, you don't need to give me credit. You can call them "My world-famous bourbon bleu burgers".