I’m not one of those grillers that prides himself in cooking through all kinds of weather. Yeah, I’ve grilled in snowstorms and beneath umbrellas, but, for me, making a meal in the great outdoors has always been about the conditions of the outdoors being, well, great.
That’s why every year around this time, when the weather begins to warm in eastern Pennsylvania, I ponder how to honor the first day of grilling. This year, I was blessed with finding the following recipe for a burger that contains the four critical B’s: bacon, beef, blue cheese, and beer. Oh, and a homemade onion ring for good measure.
Is this burger excessive? Absolutely. Does the cooking process take a little effort? You bet. But is this the best possible way to welcome a season-worth of exceptional meals? It’s a hell of a lot better than heating up a hot dog.
Double Cheeseburger with Beer Battered Onion Ring
Recipe adapted from Steve Redzikowski, executive chef of OAK at fourteenth in Boulder, CO, and Acorn in Denver, CO
What you’ll need:
½ large onion, cut into ½-inch-thick rings
2 cups buttermilk
1 Tbsp harissa (found in the international aisle of some supermarkets or online)
2 Tbsp mayonnaise
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 12-oz. light beer
1 Tbsp paprika
½ Tbsp salt
¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
Rice bran or canola oil
½ lb ground beef (80/20 blend preferred)
1 brioche bun, split and buttered
2 strips crispy bacon
3 Tbsp crumbled blue cheese
How to make it:
1. In a large container with a lid, combine the onion rings and buttermilk*. Close the lid and refrigerate overnight.
2. In a small container with a lid, combine the harissa and mayo. Close the lid and refrigerate that too.
3. Preheat your oven to 200°F and your grill to direct, high heat. In a large skillet, add about ¼-inch of canola oil and heat over medium. In a large bowl, mix together the flour, beer, paprika, salt, and pepper. Once the oil is aromatic and shimmering (about 375°F), dunk an onion ring into the beer batter, and transfer to the oil to cook until browned on both sides, about 3 minutes total. Working in batches, transfer the fried onions to a plate lined with paper towels, until all the onions are gone. Reserve the onion rings in the oven.
4. Shape the ground beef into two ¼-lb. patties about ½-inch thick. Season both sides of each patty with salt and pepper. Grill the burgers over direct heat until medium rare, about 3 minutes on each side. Remove the burgers from the grill and then grill the buns until toasted, about 30 seconds.
5. To assemble the burger, spread the harissa mayonnaise on the cut halves of each bun. Place the two burger patties atop the bottom bun, followed by the bacon, and one large onion ring. Fill the onion ring with blue cheese crumbles and close the burger. Serve with the remaining onion rings—and a side salad, if you wish. Makes 1 burger.
*Why take this step? Redzikowski explains: “Buttermilk is high in lactic acid so it tenderizes the onions so they can be eaten easier. Ever bite into an onion ring and the whole onion breaks from the batter? The buttermilk softens the onion.”