so, here we are in week one million of our stay at home quarantine. my dreams have all begun to feature food as the protagonist and me and my family as the captive victims in desperate need of table service and fancy cocktails. as a cooking instructor, i pride myself in my ability to rise to a food challenge, but the daily grind of cooking 3 meals a day, every day, has me ready to run for the hills! of course, in my dreams, those hills are sesame seed buns surrounded by molten cheese rivers. my family and i love to go to our neighborhood pub for cheeseburgers and fries, so this week i brought the pub to us.
when making burgers at home, resist the urge to create a “burger mix” with your meat. you’re not making meatloaf people! keep it nice and simple, using the best meat you can get your hands on. i use organic grass fed ground beef and dice up raw bacon to add to each patty. this adds just the right amount of fat to the lean beef and an intoxicating aroma while the patties are sizzling in my skillet. for the fries, stick to good old fashioned russets. cut them into sticks and soak them in ice water for a couple of hours before you’re ready to fry. this will release some of the starch and help to create that crispy perfection you are craving. i am partial to american cheese on my cheeseburgers for it’s melty awesomeness, but i’m not here to fight. if you want to use cheddar or gruyere, just know that you’re 100% wrong, but it’s your burger and i can’t see you. or can i?
cheeseburgers and fries (serves 4)
- 1 lb ground beef (85% lean)
- 4 strips uncooked thick cut bacon
- kosher salt and pepper to taste
- 4 slices american cheese (deli style please, not the stuff individually wrapped)
- 4 sesame seed brioche buns or potato buns
- 4 large russet potatoes, scrubbed and dried
- rice bran oil for frying (i prefer a deep skillet with 3 inches of oil)
for the fries…
cut each potato lengthwise into 1/4-inch-thick disks, then cut these disks lengthwise into 1/4-inch-thick sticks.
soak the potato sticks in cold water for 1 to 2 hours. Drain and rinse the potatoes sticks and let the potatoes dry in a single layer on a towel-lined baking sheet.
meanwhile, heat the oil in deep skillet over medium heat until it reaches 350°F on a deep-fry thermometer.
blot the potatoes completely dry with more towels. gently drop one-half of the potatoes into the oil and increase the heat to medium high to maintain the oil temperature. cook, stirring occasionally with a skimmer or a large slotted spoon, until the potatoes soften (you should be able to cut them with the side of the spoon) and are slightly blistered and creamier in color (remove them if they start to brown), 2 to 3 minutes.
scoop out the potatoes, shaking them to drain off excess oil, and transfer to a baking sheet lined with paper towels, arranging them in a single layer. fry the remaining batch of potatoes in the same manner, letting the oil return to 330°F.
now that all the fries are blanched, heat the oil until it reaches 375°F. add one-half of the fries and cook, stirring, until they turn golden-brown and become crisp (to test, carefully drain one on paper towels and try it), 1 to 2 minutes. transfer the fries to a baking sheet lined with fresh paper towels and sprinkle generously with salt. fry the remaining batch of fries in the same manner, letting the oil return to 360°F.
for the burgers…
divide the ground meat into 4 equal patties. add one strip of chopped bacon to each of the patties and mix it through with your hands until it’s evenly distributed. season the patties on both sides generously with salt and pepper.
in a skillet over medium heat, cook the burgers, turning often until a nice crust forms on the outside and they are medium rare to medium, registering 125-130 on an instant read thermometer. turn the heat off, drape the cheese slices over each burger and let the burgers rest while the cheese melts. serve on the buns of your choice with a little garlic aioli and pickles, or however you enjoy your cheeseburgers!