Without referencing any grievances about the state of ground beef, the key to a perfect cheeseburger comes straight from the butcher. We got ours courtesy of Dickson’s Farmstand Meats, and boy was it beautiful to behold. Neither slimy nor pink, this natural, humanely raised and yet not grass-fed coarsely ground chuck was a fresh, bright glossy red, and an absolute pleasure to handle. Or maybe Jess just really loves raw meat, as demonstrated in our forthcoming “How to Shape Burger Patties.”
The All-American Cheeseburger has certain non-negotiable elements: American cheese is one of them. Rather than unwrap individual singles, get sliced cheese from your nearest deli counter — it tastes better and melts slower and more evenly. Dill pickle chips, sliced red onion and tomato, crisp lettuce leaves, ketchup and mayo are also involved. You can mix even the two condiments together along with some chopped pickles for Thousand Island dressing, a burger favorite, and it’ll still be an All-American Cheeseburger worth Instagramming.
Serve these burgers on homemade buns, for the love of all things sacred. It would be a shame to serve something this beautiful on anything less.
- 2 pounds freshly ground chuck, (at least 80% lean, a.k.a. 80/20)
- 1 tablespoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 12 slices deli-counter American cheese
- 6 large burger buns, preferably homemade, toasted if desired
- thousand island dressing
- sliced red onion
- sliced tomatoes
- sliced pickles
- fresh lettuce leaves
- In a large bowl, mix ground beef, onion powder, salt and pepper until just combined. Do not overmix, or your patties will be tough.
- Divide into six portions and form patties, without pressing too hard. They should be uniform in thickness. Smooth out any cracks using your fingers. Make these right before you grill them, so they stay at room temperature.
- Preheat your grill, grill pan or cast-iron skillet to high heat and add burger patties. If using a grill, cover with the lid.
- Cook until the crust that forms on the bottom of the burger releases it from the pan or grate — about 2 minutes. Gently test, but don't flip it until it gets to this point. When burgers lift up easily, flip, add two slices of cheese to each, close lid if using a grill, and cook on the other side for another 2-3 minutes for medium to medium rare.
- Remove burgers with a sturdy metal spatula and transfer to a plate. Allow to rest for several minutes, then transfer to buns.
- Garnish as desired and serve immediately.