A while ago I played around with the idea of modifying my diet by cutting back on carbohydrates. These days you will never hear me say the d-word unless I (1) mention that someone I know is on a diet or (2) am explaining to someone that if I had my way I’d happily live off a diet of good pastry and coffee.But back then it was chic to be on a diet where you cut back on something be it fat, protein or carbs.
Some carbohydrates like pasta presented a problem because I like pasta, a lot, eating sandwiches minus the bread was a little weird and really it’s not a sandwich without the bread, right? Oddly enough that wasn’t a problem with burgers. I gladly traded in the thick carb heavy bread for a knife and fork and found that I actually liked my “burger” that way. I’d construct the perfect bite by cutting off a chunk of crusty,juicy meat,adding a piece of tomato of equal size and a leaf of lettuce onto a fork and dip it all into a condiment sized ramekin filled with ketchup. Not bad,actually pretty good.
Obviously the no-carb thing didn’t last and it wasn’t long til I was back eating bowls of pasta and sandwiches on whole wheat bread.
The burger minus the bun kind of stuck with me and even when I had a burger with the bun it all seemed a bit too much.
Let me explain, I don’t eat burgers that often. Mostly during the grilling season and even then not as much as everyone else. After grilling season I eat a burger once every few months only because I or someone else in my home gets a taste for a burger and fries and if it can’t be satisfied with the fast food kind then I make them at home doing my best to make them flavorful and juicy.
If there were times when I didn’t have buns for my burger then I’d revert to the burger of my youth; a big hunky piece of fried beef sandwiched between two slices of too soft sandwich bread and quickly developing a soggy hole right in the center from way too much grease and ketchup.
Until I came across a patty melt I never thought a burger on sandwich bread could be good or not sloppy. I’ve never in my life had a patty melt and though it is proclaimed to be the best of diner food I’d never seen it on a diner menu. Maybe because I never get past the breakfast section of a diner menu.
My introduction to something like a patty melt was when I worked at a restaurant that served a flat thin hamburger patty fried on the griddle until crispy then chopped up,onions added to the mix,some cheese and the whole thing piled on a bun. It smelled divine and I promised myself I’d make it one day.
Last week after a quick google search I found a recipe on Saveur.com for a patty melt. It looked scrumptious and I thought if a patty melt was good enough to be on Saveur.com then it was good enough to be on my blog.
Technically not a burger because it has no bun a patty melt is a juicy,multi-textured sandwich with elements of hot and cold all brought together on rye bread with swiss or cheddar cheese in between and toasted on a griddle until the cheese is melting and gooey.All these components go well together-the crusted flat,sometimes square ,burger patty and charred onions with the rye bread adding a pleasantly sour note. Oh, and that rye bread is nothing like white bread. It is sturdy and crispy from a slathering of soft butter and made crunchy from the hot grill.
So now having discovered a patty melt I get to have my burger on a “bun” and eat it too without having to bother with the problem of too much bread.
Recipe: patty melt,adapted loosely from Saveur.com
Note: I used good old american cheese because that’s what I like on my “burgers”. Feel free to use the cheddar or swiss cheese. Also I didn’t include it in the recipe but I added bacon to my patty melts which isn’t traditional but very good.
1 1/2 lbs ground beef
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper,to taste
2 red onions,halved and thinly sliced
12 slices of rye bread
12 thin slices of american cheese
8 tablespoons unsalted butter softened
Season the beef with salt and pepper. Diveide meat into six 1/4 inch thick pattys that are slightly wider and longer than the bread.
Heat a little canola oil in a heavy skillet(or cast iron) over medium-high heat. Add the onions,season with salt and pepper,cook stirring occasionally,until softened and browned,about 12 minutes. transfer the onions to a bowl;wipe out skillet. Working in 3 batches,heat a little oil in skillet over high heat. Add 2 burger patties;cook,flipping once,until well browned,about 4 minutes total. Transfer patties to plate.
Top each of 6 bread slices with some onions,a cheese slice,and a burger patty.Top each burger with another cheese slice and a piece of bread. Using a table knife,spread butter over the top and bottom of each sandwich.
Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Working in 3 batchs,cook sandwiches,flipping once,until golden brown and hot,about six minutes.
Makes 6 sandwiches