Column: The Stuffed Burger
May 5, 2021
Whenever I make a seven-hour trip to my hometown, one of my first stops is at Grub's Drive-In for a double shamrock burger. It is four patties of wonderful. The only thing I have found similar to a shamrock is a 4x4 at In-N-Out burger. The first time I tried In-N-Out in Los Angeles, it took me back to my childhood and is usually the first stop if I am in Salt Lake City, Southern Utah, or head to Las Vegas for a weekend. Some people get really excited for a packed itinerary on vacation, I'm usually more concerned about where I'm going to eat.
Over the years, I have attempted to recreate both burgers at home, and while I feel I get pretty close, it is never quite the same. I used to get upset about not getting the burgers to turn out the same, but I'm now completely okay with it. The places are both popular for a reason, and it all starts with the high-level ingredients they use.
While I can't seem to perfect either burger, I have come up with a fan favorite at home that is pretty darn delicious. I will warn you that my "stuffed burger" is not healthy, but it is a cheesy mound of wonderful that makes me drool as I think about it.
I watch plenty of cooking show's, and I've seen quite a bit about the "Juicy Lucy," which is essentially a burger stuffed with a ridiculous amount of American cheese. Created in Minnesota, the burger has spread to menus across the United States and eventually into my kitchen.
I've always enjoyed In-N-Out because their American cheese is not the Kraft singles you'll find at the store, although that works for a burger too. They have it specially made for them, and it is perfect for their burger. I also loved that Grub's used Velveeta, which I have found is best for my stuffed burger. I'm sure many people will gasp when they think about Velveeta or American cheese on a burger and would cry for something fancy, but it just doesn't create the same type of burger.
When I start the "stuffed burger," I always try to get ground beef that is 80/20. Anything over 80, and it just doesn't have the same type of juicy from the meat.
Probably the essential part of this dish is my tried-and-true cast-iron skillet "Newt." The first thing I do is get him screaming hot. You can do this recipe on a grill, but it just tastes so much better on a seasoned pan, and if any cheese does sneak out, it won't fall into the flames.
The next step is to make two patties for each burger. I try to make these about a ¼ pound each, so when I combine them, it makes a monster of a burger that is probably enough to feed a small village. I wouldn't say I like to get fancy with my patties for this recipe, just a little salt, and pepper.
When I'm ready to assemble, I put about an inch high of Velveeta on each patty. I don't cover the whole patty because this would lead to an absolute mess, and no cheese would be left in the burger.
Once I have the cheese on the bottom, I place the other patty on top and use a little magic to seal the patty. This is a pain the first few times, but once you figure it out, it is rare to lose much, if any, cheese. Be sure not to overwork the meat or you will lose moisture.
After the burger is sealed, I throw it into the screaming hot pan. I let it go for about five minutes to create a beautiful sear and then flip it over and let it go for about ten more minutes. This burger is so big it takes a little bit longer, but it is well worth the wait.
As this is taking place, I heat my other cast iron, which does not have a name, with a bit of oil or butter and toast the buns.
As hungry as I get making this burger, I always remember to wait a few minutes before taking the first bite. Everyone who ate a lot of pizza rolls or hot pockets as a kid will understand this. The cheese is like lava and can do some serious damage.
The toppings I always leave for everyone in the house to decide, but I know this is one of the things the kids always ask for. I'm a bit surprised they have given it such a generic name. Maybe I could hint that it could be called something like "The Beast" and that would catch on.