It's fun to make a huge, Dagwood-y burger; it's not so fun to eat it, off your lap, after 90% of it fled the buns due to poor construction. But that won't happen if you follow these tips, which ensure that your burger's impressive size doesn't leave you compromising any of its structural -- or deliciousness -- integrity.
Anatomy of a monster burger (layers top to bottom): Bun crown Ketchup and mustard Plain patty Cheesy patty Bacon Cheesy patty Lettuce Pickles Red onion Tomato Mayo Bun base
1. Use a fresh grind Get a very coarse grind of dry-aged, grass-fed chuck. Mix it with short-rib fat for extra-juicy patties. Handle the meat as little as possible to keep it tender and season with just salt and pepper.
2. Form thin patties Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Then mold your beef into three balls and set them evenly on the pan. Cover that with more parchment and flatten with another baking sheet until patties are 1/4-inch thick. Chill for an hour before cooking. How much meat you use depends on the size of your bun, but don’t exceed 3oz per patty; they need to stay thin. Cook on a flat-top griddle or cast-iron skillet to maximize caramelization and get that flavorful crust. Two to three minutes each side over medium-high heat should do it.
3. Melt the cheese American is a classic for a reason. The milky, salty cheese has a high melt-factor and just the right amount of gooeyness to help keep burger layers together. We find Kraft Singles are best for the job. Top two of the patties with cheese during the last minute of cooking, and watch the magic go down.
4. Weave the bacon A bacon weave -- instead of just scattered strips -- ensures your bacon layer is level and gets into every bite. No stray slices will slip out either, especially with it wedged in between two cheesy patties.
5. Choose the bun wisely It’s easy to get mesmerized by meat and forget that the foundation of any great burger, monster or otherwise, is the bun. Our partners at restaurant-quality breadmakers Cobblestone Bread Co. offer this sterling advice: use buns & rolls substantial enough to tame the beast and sop up its juices, and flavorful enough to contribute to your joy instead of merely facilitating it -- with a hint of sweetness to counter the meat & cheese’s savoriness. With something that weighs this much, there’s simply no room for dead weight.
6. Toast the bun Spread butter onto each cut side and set the halves down on a griddle for a minute. The butter’s moisture softens the bun’s interior for optimal chew while the surface browns to prevent sogginess. Toasting the bun ensures condiments stay on the bread, but don't soak through.
7. Sauce the bun Mayo on the bottom anchors the veggies and tastes great when it mixes with dripping burger juices. Ketchup and mustard up top gives the meat some tang.
8. Shred the lettuce Shards of cool iceberg keep it simple, and are the perfect foil for a triple dose of burger grease. Shredded lettuce works best because the flat surface of leaf lettuce will encourage burger slippage. Its placement here also acts as a protective blanket for the rest of the vegetables.
9. Pickles, onion, then tomato Cut a couple red onion slices 1/4-inch thick and sear only on one side to release their sweet flavor but maintain their raw crunch, which adds friction to help tame rogue toppings (pickles and tomatoes) from escaping. A beefsteak tomato is the only breed big enough to cover the square footage of a burger patty. Slice it thick if you’d like, but don’t layer slices, which will cause them to slide around.
10. Getting it in your mouth Squish your beast down -- again, a good bun will hold its ground here -- and grab it with both hands with thumbs and pinky fingers tucked under the bottom bun for stability. Open wide, slack the jaw, and get your face on in there. You done did it.