There’s a right way to make a cheeseburger, and most of us are doing it wrong, apparently.
As Chris Thompson of Deadspin pointed out in a recent piece, improper cheese placement can turn a Grade-A burger into a horrific blob of mush. Thompson makes a case for cheesing the bun rather than the burger itself, and he insists that this method creates a burger that doesn’t “split apart like a g*****n practical joke as soon as you lift it for a bite.”
Yeah, he’s pretty serious. However, we’d like to point out that if you’re trying to make the perfect burger, you need to put in a bit of thought.
Burger Vs. Gravity
To avoid condiment slippage, it’s all about cheese placement on the burger—or, more precisely, the bun. Many recipes will tell you to place your desired cheese on top of the burger patties while they’re still on the grill and close the lid. The cheese only takes a minute or two to melt, and then it’s time to assemble.
Most people then place the cheesy burger patty on the bottom bun, piling lettuce, tomato, onion, and other condiments on top. Simple, right? This is a recipe for disaster. First of all, when cheese melts on top of burgers on the grill, it tends to slide off the sides. This leaves your grill a mess and the middle of your burger cheeseless, which is the summertime equivalent of a war crime.
Condiment placement is another key issue. There’s always a little bit of water in burger veggies, and placing those on top of melted cheese creates a slippery situation. Lettuce and tomato sitting on a gooey chunk of cheese gives you zero burger traction. Ideally, you want to taste all flavors in each bite, and that just isn’t possible if half of the toppings fall out.
You can prevent burger condiment blunders by changing up your sandwich-building order. Alton Brown’s personal burger recipe outlines this revolutionary method. The idea is to melt the cheese on the hamburger buns, not the meat itself.
First, spread mayo and mustard on the buns (both top and bottom), cover them with cheese, then set them in a broiler to melt. Place veggies under the burger patty, which will help to keep everything intact while you eat.
Oh, and only flip your burger once. Do we really have to say that?
Pick Your Dairy Wisely
Meltability and flavor are both important factors to take into consideration when picking out cheese for your burgers. The way certain cheeses melt will affect how well a burger holds together. Processed cheeses tend to melt easily without overshadowing the flavor of the burger, which is why American cheese works so well.
However, if you prefer a bolder taste, try using tangy cheeses. Blue cheese burgers with caramelized onions are a great twist on traditional burger flavors. Be wary of crumbled cheeses like feta and cojita, as these typically don’t melt and can leave you with a strange-tasting mess.
Building Better Grill Habits
It’s important to make sure you set yourself up for success before you even think about firing up the charcoals.
Always preheat your grill in the beginning. Preheating prevents food from sticking and creates those classic grill marks everyone loves. Next, keep an eye on the flames, so you don’t burn anything. Finally, make sure you don’t obsess over flipping your patties. Like we mentioned earlier, you only need to flip once; otherwise, you’re doing something wrong.