I love a good cheeseburger. It has to have the perfect balance between a juicy and quality burger, the perfect sauce, crispy bacon (yes bacon has to be there), and a soft, airy, fresh bun. And if you are going crazy you can throw in an egg too... fried or grilled. Whichever you prefer.
Setting aside the toppings you choose for your burger, the first and most important balance that needs to be established is the one between the meat and the bread. Because the bun is to cheeseburger as bread is to butter. Vital. And this is why I bring to you a really good, pretty straightforward burger bun recipe. I tested other recipes, but either they were too dry (for my taste) or a little too complicated for our first time making bread together. So I went for this one, which I thought was kind of perfect.
Having solved this very important issue, I proceeded to do a little introspection, meditate and be honest about what I like in my burger. You’ll probably find this funny, or a little weird even, but I actually prefer it without sauce. Yes you read correctly. No sauce. With one exception only: BBQ sauce. And this is totally new. So, seeing that I am a newly declared fan I have put together a delicious BBQ sauce recipe.
Moving on to toppings, these are my chosen ones: provolone cheese (if you can get your hands on it, raclette is a good alternative, as far as cheese is concerned), crispy bacon and caramelized onions. Option 2: A fried egg and no onions. Or you can maybe try both.
For the Caramelized Onions
Slice the onions as thinly as you can. The proper French technical term would be "émincer". You can watch how to do this in the video below.
Melt the butter in a pot at very very low heat (my burners go up to 6, and I did the whole procedure at number 2!). Add the sliced onions and cook slowly until they are soft, really soft, and caramelized. The key to this process is being patient, and stir from time to time. We don’t want coloration! That’s why I cook the onions very slowly. Also, some people add sugar to make caramelized onions... I don’t. They are sweet enough without adding anything extra. Try it out!
Season once they are nicely cooked and set aside.
Heat the olive oil in a pan over medium heat. In the mean time chop the onion or in as French would say "ciseler". Separate the green part of the scallions from the white part and chop the white part. Set aside the greens. Crush the garlic clove using the blade of your knife and the palm of your hand.
Once the olive oil has heated up add the scallions (white part only), the shallots and the garlic. Cook over medium low heat, removing from time to time. After 10 minutes add the honey, the brown sugar, the paprika and the crushed red pepper flakes. Bring it to a simmer and let it reduce. Add the vinegar and the soy sauce with the splash of limejuice and let it reduce once again.
Finally add the ketchup and cook for about 15 minutes, or until you obtain the desired consistency for your sauce.
I reduced quite a bit, because for the burgers I prefer a less runny sauce. But for other uses, a little less reduced would be good.
Make a big batch. It preserves well in the fridge in jam jars. You can then use the sauce for other recipes, as chicken wings, or ribs, or just as a sauce for your grilled meat.
Chop the shallots and the scallions (white part). Slice the green part of the scallions as thinly as possible. Remember to use the ones you set aside when preparing the BBQ sauce.
In a sauté pan melt the butter and add the shallots and scallions (white part). Cook over medium heat until they are transparent. Add the sliced green part of the scallions, plus the red pepper flakes, salt and ground pepper. Cook for an extra 2 minutes.
Transfer to a container and let it cool. If there is excess of butter, strain.
Season the grounded beef and pork with salt and pepper. In a bowl mix together the beef, the pork, the egg yolks, and the cooked shallot/scallion mixture once it has cooled off a bit.
Make 8 balls using your hands, and place over parchment paper. Proceed to flatten the balls into a burger shape.
We are almost ready to actually cook the burgers!
Heat a sauté pan. Once it’s really hot and over high heat, brown your bacon on both sides. Extra fat is not necessary; bacon has enough of that by itself.
For the Finishing Touches
Once your bread is in the oven, or when you have already baked your buns, whatever your timeline is, you can start cooking your burgers.
On a sauté pan (or a grill if you are lucky enough to have one!), drizzle a drop of olive oil. Once it is very very hot, place your burgers and cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Turn the burgers and place a spoonful of caramelized onions, plus a slice of provolone over each burger and cover your pan. Cook for three minutes. Remove the cover. If the cheese is not melted enough cover again and continue cooking.
If your provolone cheese comes in thin slices the way I suggested above is the way to go. If you get your provolone in one big thick disk, as I did, then you probably want to go another direction. Before cooking the burgers, melt the provolone disk. Remove for the sauté pan, and also remove some of the excess fat (it is the provolone’s fat!). Cook your burgers using this fat, and don’t add any extra olive oil!
Once you turn your burgers, proceed exactly as I said before, except your cheese will already be melted, it will just need some extra heat!
Any other cheese that you would like to use would be ok. I would go with Swiss cheese if you can’t find or don’t especially enjoy provolone!
Slice your buns in the middle, and spread the BBQ on the bottom cover. Add the arugula (if you have any). Transfer the burgers onto the buns; add the crispy bacon and close the burger!