Bacon-Cheddar Burgers with Caramelized Onions
- Active time: 40 min
Total time: 2 hr (includes freezing bacon)
Burger-meisters might be shocked, but this burger does best by being cooked a bit more slowly, over indirect heat. So sit back, pop open a cold one, and let these burgers baste themselves into a sublime place.
This recipe is part of our Gourmet Modern Menu: Burger Bash. Click here to view the full menu.
For Caramelized Onions:
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 1/2 pounds onions (2 large), sliced into 1/2-inch-thick rings
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 3 tablespoons seasoned rice vinegar
- 1/2 pound sliced bacon, frozen 1 hour
- 1 1/2 pounds ground beef chuck
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- 4 to 8 thin slices extra-sharp Cheddar
- 4 hamburger buns or alternatives such as kaiser or brioche rolls
- An instant-read thermometer
- Sliced tomato; soft-leaf lettuce leaves or baby arugula
For Caramelized Onions:
Heat oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over medium heat until it shimmers, then cook onions with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, covered, stirring occasionally, until golden and softened, 15 to 20 minutes.
Reduce heat to medium-low, then add vinegar, scraping up the brown bits on bottom of the skillet, and cook, uncovered, stirring, until liquid evaporates, 1 to 2 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer to a small bowl and keep warm, covered.
Prepare grill for indirect-heat cooking over medium-hot charcoal (medium heat for gas; see directions below).
Meanwhile, cut frozen bacon crosswise into eight sections and distribute evenly in bowl of a food processor, then pulse until finely chopped.
In a large bowl, distribute bacon evenly over beef and drizzle mixture with Worcestershire sauce. Sprinkle evenly with 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper.
Combine mixture as gently and thoroughly as possible with your fingers (be careful not to overmix). Form into 4 patties, about 4 inches in diameter and 1 inch thick.
Brush cut sides of buns with butter.
Oil grill rack, then sear patties directly over coals (or lit burner or burners), covered only if using a gas grill, moving to area of grill with no coals (or over shut-off burner) if flare-ups occur, until browned, 2 to 3 minutes on each side.
Move burgers to area with no coals (or over shut-off burner) and grill, covered, turning once, until they reach 155°F on instant-read thermometer, about 4 minutes total. Top with cheese to taste and heat, covered, until it melts and burgers register 160°F, about 1 minute. Transfer burgers to a clean platter.
Grill buns, buttered side down, until grill marks appear, about 1 minute.
Assemble burgers with buns and accompaniments, topping cheese with caramelized onions.
Onions can be made 3 days ahead and chilled, covered. Rewarm.
Patties can be formed 1 day ahead and chilled, covered. Bring to room temperature before cooking.
If you plan on doubling the recipe, be aware that you will have to cook the burgers in batches.
If you are unable to cook outdoors, burgers can be cooked in a heated grill pan over medium to medium-low heat, covered the whole time, until they reach 160°F, about 1 minute.
Charcoal Grilling Instructions:
Open vents on bottom and lid of grill. Light a large chimney starter full of charcoal (preferably hardwood).
For Indirect-heat Cooking:
When coals are lit, dump them out along two opposite sides of bottom rack, leaving a space free of charcoal in the middle of rack equal to the size of the food to be grilled.
When lit charcoal turns grayish white (start checking coals after 15 minutes), the fire will be at its hottest and will then begin to cool off. How long you can hold your hand 5 inches above the grill rack directly over the coals determines the heat of your grill, as follows:
Hot: 1 to 2 seconds
Medium-hot: 3 to 4 seconds
Low: 5 to 6 seconds
Gas Grilling Instructions:
Preheat all burners on high covered, 10 minutes, then adjust heat according to recipe. Just before grilling, turn off 1 burner (middle burner if there are 3).