I have a confession to make. I not a huge hamburger fan. I like beef just fine and I love me some yummy carbolicious buns with cheese and what-not. But a big thick bunch of ground meat is just not super appealing to me. What I tend to lean towards are the “kids menu” burgers that are a bit thinner and a bit more charred on the outside with a simple soft bun. That’s not to say that I necessarily like my meat well done, but my favorite part of a burger is the charred edges. So this summer I worked at it until I came up with my very favorite burger combination. And today I’m going to share it with you. You can make it for your friends and family this Labor Day weekend and tell them that Mama taught you how to do it.
With burgers there are two really important things to know. First, we need to talk about fat content. This is not the time to go for lean ground beef. For a burger, you really don’t want to go any leaner than 80/20. Anything leaner and it’s going to get really dried out and tough. A lot of the fat will drip off anyway and it adds lots of flavor and moisture so just let it go and buy the cheap stuff. The next thing you need to know is not to mess with it too much. Put your patties together but don’t knead the meat or mash it up too much or you’ll end up with a funky texture more like meatloaf – NOT what we are going for here.
This is not the least labor intensive burger recipe in the world but it’s totally worth it. The key is making two THIN patties for each burger and layering them while on the grill so that you end up with the same amount of burger in each one but with twice the flavor.
These burgers cook super fast so it’s important to have all of your prep done before you even think of throwing these guys on the grill. I usually cook the bacon while the grill preheats and then cook the onions while the bacon is draining on paper towels. While the onions are cooling, form your patties and begin to assemble the tray to take out to the grill. It is important not to leave the grill unattended while you cook. These cook so fast and if you walk away, you will end up with little charred burger-pucks. Just read the recipe well before you get started.
The Best Burgers You’ll Ever Make
- 2 lbs 80/20 ground beef
- Montreal steak seasoning
- 12 strips bacon
- 1 large white or yellow onion, sliced into thick rings (maybe four total for the whole onion)
- vegetable oil
- salt & pepper
- non-stick cooking spray (like Pam)
- 12 thick slices sharp cheddar cheese
- 6 good quality hamburger buns (brioche if you can get it), split
- Duke’s mayonnaise (if you can’t get Duke’s, well I’m just sorry; you need to probably move South or do some online grocery shopping. You can use some other brand of course, but I will cry big dramatic Southern tears for you)
- Cheap yellow mustard
- Dill pickles, lettuce and tomato, as desired
Preheat charcoal grill.
Cook bacon in a skillet until crisp. Remove from skillet and drain on paper towels. Set aside for later.
Brush onion slices with oil and salt and pepper both sides. Place onion slices on hot grill and cook until softened and slightly charred. You may lose the little middle circles through the grill grate. Not the end of the world. Remove from grill and place on cutting board. Allow to cool slightly and then rough chop. Set aside in bowl for later.
Divide hamburger into 12 portions and make into thin patties (no more than 1/2 inch thick) about the same diameter as the buns. Sprinkle both sides of burgers with Montreal seasoning. At this point, I put everything on a big tray or cookie sheet to carry out to the grill. Like I said, it’s going to come together fast so take seasoned burgers, onions, bacon, cheese, sliced buns, and mayo with spreader out all together so you are ready to go.
Spray grill grate with cooking spray. Cook burgers on hot grill about three minutes on first side. Turn burgers and top each with chopped onions, bacon and a slice of cheese. Close grill cover and continue to cook for about 2 minutes. Stack the burgers so that there are six double burgers. Put split buns cut side down around perimeter of grill and toast for one minute. Remove buns from grill and quickly spread both sides of buns with mayonnaise (keeps the juicy burgers from making your buns all soggy). Top each with a double burger and cheap yellow mustard and dress with pickles, lettuce and tomato as desired.