JUSTIFICATION – MAXIMUM CARAMELIZATION
SO you watched Tony Bourdain in Bronx, didn’t you?
And if in the next following days, a certain very catchy phrase got stuck in your head like the most maddeningly annoying tune, echoing “chop’cheese… no, chop-peh-ded cheese… chop’cheese…”, steady, you are not mad. You are just, like me, actually more Bronx than you ever thought you were. This supposedly Bronx-via-Harlem native dish, even though, was not at all the leading lady in the narrative of that show (i mean let’s face it, Chuchifrito… who can beat that diva), but she struck a tune that I couldn’t stop singing, and there’s only one way to shut her up.
But just because I wrote about this handsome dude here awhile back, doesn’t mean I’m familiar with the other girl next door. So who’s chopped cheese? With a name like “chopped cheese”, you know she’s not the kinda girl who reads Goop, al’right. She doesn’t take the hipster burger non-sense or customizable patty elitism, in fact, pffff, she doesn’t even give a fuck about her slightly more polished cousin, cheese burger. Chopped cheese, is about disrespecting a patty in the most gloriously wrong of ways, dismantling it half-way during cooking with complete disregard to the concept of, juice, or the ludicrous question of, doneness. Hey. Just ain’t the way she likes it. Everything we’ve been taught not to do to a patty, she’s done. Justification? Maximum caramelization. To brown every possible square inch of ground beef to draw out the beefy-ness within, and let the cheese melt into the desperate nooks and crannies in between in a greasy, fluid unison. In the most non-vogue sorta way, she’s some kinda sexy.
So here you’re thinking, how do I get me some of that sexiness. Well first, before you even pull your pants up to go out to the grocery stores, you gotta put your mind right. Any obsession within you for refinement, artisanal bullshit, the love for your French cuffs, should be tossed out the window. She’s not impressed with your suits and ties. She likes fatty and economically friendly ground beef (and if you even raise a thought of grinding your own beef? To the left.). She works better with non-real American cheese and a soft, squishy bun. And she likes to be eaten instantly when you’re still in your grease-splattered T-shirt, standing by the edge of the kitchen counter, marvelling. It makes her feel special.
Well now… so you’ve been introduced. I guess this is the perfect time to… leave you two alone.
Serving: 1 burger ONLY
Well, as you can see this beauty right here is the product of me, channeling my inner chopped cheese-girl (who am I kiddin’. I’m born a chopped cheese-girl). In fact, I didn’t just chopped-cheesed it. I srira-chopped-cheesed it!
The recipe is for 1 burger only, so you can double or triple it according to your needs. I like to toast the buns and cook the patty all in one skillet and multi-task a bit, but if you are making multiple burgers or simply don’t want to be stressed with more than one thing at a time, feel free to separate the tasks. You can also add lettuce and tomato based on your likings, but I like to keep it simple.
Another thing about cheese. When it comes to cheese burgers (which is what this kind of is), I’ve always felt the non-real American cheese slices deliver the most “cheese burger-ness” that we are so accustomed to. But I happen to have a chunk of sharp cheddar in the fridge so that’s what I used, because what kind of person wastes a good chunk of sharp cheddar? You can use what you like.
- 5.6 oz (160 grams) ground beef, preferably at least 20% fat
- 2 tbsp sriracha sauce, plus more for serving
- 1 tsp cornstarch
- Dash of tabasco sauce
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- All-purpose flour for dusting
- 1.8 oz, or roughly 1/2 cup (50 grams) shredded cheddar cheese, or 2 slices of American cheese
- 2 tbsp unsalted butter
- 2 tbsp finely minced onion
- A little bit mayonnaise
- 1 burgar bun
- Divide the ground beef in half, then mix 1 portion with sriracha sauce, cornstarch (cornstarch helps absorb the excess moisture from the sriracha) and a dash of tabasco sauce until evenly mixed, then put both seasoned and unseasoned ground beef together side by side to form 1 patty (without mixing). Season both sides with salt and freshly ground black pepper, then dust with a very thin layer of all-purpose flour (to encourage caramelization).
- Heat and rub 2 tbsp of butter in a large flat skillet over high heat. Slice the buns and position it on one side of the skillet, and cook the patty on the other side. So you need to do a bit of multi-tasking here. Once the first side of the buns are toasted, flip them to toast the other side as well, then remove them once both sides are toasted. Smear a bit of mayonnaise on one side of the bun, and scatter the minced onion on top.
- Meanwhile, let the first side of the patty really really caramelize before you flip it. Once both sides are caramelized, use a wide spatula to break the patty up into small chunks. Now add the shredded cheese (or sliced cheese), and let cheese melt into the space in between meats, then bather everything (including the browned cheese-bits on the side) back into a small pile. Put the bun without mayo/onion on top of the meats (to help the cheese melt) and let cook until all the cheese has melted (if there are cheese melting away to the side, push it back into the pile with a spatula). Transfer everything with a large spatula onto the bun with mayo and onions.
- Serve immediately with more sriracha on the side.