For those not in the know , a juicy lucy is a cheese burger with the cheese on the inside rather than the traditional slice on top and I have been trying to get cooking one right for absolutely ages.
The problems I have encountered are many. Either the cheese wasn’t melted (a pocket of melted cheese oozing out on the first bite of a juicy lucy is essential) or it had broken free of the confines of the pattie or had disappeared seemingly absorbed by the meat itself. On other attempts the cheese worked, but the burger was overdone (for me a good burger really has to be medium rare – with a nice bit of pink on the inside).
I have tried all sorts of hard cheeses (cheddar, gouda, emmental, jarlsberg – you name it) all to no avail.
Last Saturday, however, much to my delight I think I nailed it . The end product of my endeavours was a burger pattie with a slightly crunchy crust, a tender interior cooked to a nice medium rare and, the holy grail, a molten cheese centre that resulted in oozing cheesy loveliness from the first greedy mouthful.
So I hear you ask what was the secret to my success this time around. Somewhat shamefully, it was cheap as chips, playdough impersonating, plastic processed burger cheese . Buying it from Tesco ( only place I could find it – I tried delicatessens, but no joy, honest) made me feel ever so slightly dirty, but I was in and out in a flash (heavily disguised so I don’t think anyone saw me buy the offending item).
My recipe for four juicy lucy burgers, which I was very proud of, is as follows:
° I\2 kilo of good quality minced beef ( I generally mince my own, a mix of chuck steak and a fattier cut like brisket – 70:30 split – but as long as get it from a proper butcher is fine ). Don’t use that weird looking wormy mince they sell in supermarkets, especially the extra lean stuff)
° 3 splashes of Worcestershire sauce
° 4 slices of individually wrapped plastic processed burger cheese
° seasoning salt – I used Turner &George (previously East London Steak Company) Classic Steak Rub– but you can use a mix of good sea salt\garlic salt and lemon pepper and maybe a touch of brown sugar. Turner & George also do excellent meat, delivered mail order.
° burger bun (whatever takes your fancy but nothing to crispy)
° garnish (again whatever takes your fancy – I would go for a couple of slices of gherkin but had run out so mine was naked).
That’s it, no need for egg or breadcrumbs, any other binders or herbs, onion etc.
1. Mixed together the minced beef and the Worcestershire sauce in a bowl and then put it in fridge for 1\2 hour plus . Do not add any of the seasoning salt at this stage.
2. Take the mince out of the fridge and divide into eight even patties. Flatten each pattie (but don’t make them very thin) and create a dent in the centre of four of the patties.
3. Cut each slice of the cheese into small pieces and pile it into centre of each of the four indented patties.
4. Place on each cheese laden bottom pattie a top pattie and mould together well. Make sure you take a bit of time over this as otherwise there is a danger of the two patties coming apart in the hot cooking pan/griddle and you losing all the cheesy loveliness from the middle.
5. Place the completed patties in the fridge ( to firm up) and take them out about 15 – 20 mins before you are ready to cook (this allows them to get to room temperature before cooking).
6. Get the pan/griddle surface smoking hot before adding the patties and as they are about to go on the heat put a generous pinch of your chosen seasoning on one side of the pattie ( heat side) and repeat on other side just before you flip.
7. I am not much for precise timings as I use temperature to see if meat is done to my taste, but would say 5 odd minutes per side (patties were quite thick) for medium rare, but don’t hold me to that. Temperature wise I took them off the heat when the meat probe registered 137 °F (58 °C) and let them rest for a few minutes. If you want them medium or more well done, temperature needs to be 150°F (65.5°C) plus.
I would strongly recommend getting a meat thermometer as this allows for more precise cooking to the doneness you like it. They are not expensive.
The end result was a burger I was very happy with indeed, with Mrs.SF (not a great beef lover – they do say opposites attract) also giving it the thumbs up.
Drinks wise, I would say a good craft beer would go very well with this (support your local craft breweries). I, however, fancied wine and picked out a nice Barbera D’Asti, an Italian wine from Piedmont. The pronounced sour cherry note to this wine , with a back drop of spice, worked really well with the richness of the meat and cheese combo. You can get a decent one for £9 and upwards in UK.