I’ve been tossing burgers on the grill for more years than I care to admit. Nothing wrong with that, but recently, I have started making an “indoor” burger that is a mean rival to the grilled one. It harkens back to the diner burger, that deliciously juicy patty cooked on a griddle that oozes with beefy flavor. Grilling a burger means that you have to seal in all the juices with a quick sear or lose them to the fire. A burger cooked on a griddle, however, can baste in its own jus while it cooks, making it richer and juicier. If you must have that hint of smoke, take your griddle outside, put it on the grill grate and griddle your burgers on the grill for the best of both worlds! Gabrielle Hamilton of New York City’s Prune restaurant is famous for her no-nonsense approach to food. She wants no part of the empire-building culture that has become so common with chefs today. She only wants to cook what she likes to eat in her tiny East Village restaurant. Frank Bruni in the New York Times described Prune as “this cramped, irresistible nook with its scuffed floors, nicked tables and mismatched silverware.” Her recipes follow a similar, spare pattern. In her Prune cookbook, she has a recipe for a grilled cheeseburger on an English muffin with parsley-shallot butter. Actually, that is the recipe! She gives careful (sometimes too careful) step by step instructions, but those are the only ingredients. Her burgers are delicious as is, but cooking them on a griddle and adding some caramelized onions makes them even better in my book.
Griddle Cheeseburgers with Parsley-Shallot Butter
Adapted from Gabrielle Hamilton’s Prune
Make a parsley-shallot butter by combining 1 peeled garlic clove, ½ cup chopped shallots, 1 cup parsley, a big pinch of salt and 1 stick slightly softened butter in a food processor. Mix until smooth. Thinly slice a medium onion. Heat about 1 tablespoon olive oil in a sauce pan and saute the onions, stirring frequently, over medium high heat until they are nicely caramelized, about 20-25 minutes. Set aside. Combine 1 pound ground chuck with 1/3 pound ground lamb. Add a generous pinch of salt and pepper and gently combine. Be sure not to over-handle the meat as it will become tough. Film the surface of a griddle with olive oil and set over high heat. Form four patties from the ground meat and sear for about 5 minutes, until the patty easily releases from the pan. Flip and carefully top each with caramelized onions and white cheddar cheese and cook for another 3 minutes. Smear 4 toasted English muffin bottoms with parsley-shallot butter all the way to the edge. Top with burgers and the muffin tops and serve immediately, maybe with sweet potato fries or Terra vegetable chips. Serves 4 Wine pairing Try a creamy Russian River Chardonnay (!) or a Tempranillo from Rioja