When you're talking burgers, it's all about the meat. The only time it isn't is when there's cheese involved. Which, if you really think about it, should be always.
Cheeseburgers are comforting, satisfying and stick-to-your-ribs good. And there's a cheese and meat or vegetable combination to satisfy everyone.
Summer may be winding down, but there's still time to get outside and grill your favorite burger. Here are three of our favorites to get your creative juices flowing. Don't forget the napkins!
Italian caprese sliders
Total time: 50 minutes
Servings: Makes 18 sliders
Note: From Susan Salerno of Henderson, Nev.
1 1/2 pounds ground beef
1 pound hot Italian sausage, casings removed
1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
1 onion, finely chopped
1 bell pepper, finely chopped
3 cloves minced garlic, divided
1/2 pound fresh mozzarella cheese, cut into ¼-inch slices
18 white dinner rolls
Freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
4 large Roma tomatoes, cut into ¼-inch slices
36 medium-large basil leaves, stemmed
1. Make the patties: In a large bowl, gently but thoroughly mix together the ground beef, Italian sausage, Italian seasoning, onion, bell pepper and 2 cloves minced garlic. Press the mixture into a jelly roll pan, using a rolling pin to make a flat, even layer. (Cover the meat with plastic wrap, if necessary, to keep it from sticking as it's rolled.) Cut the meat into roughly 2-inch squares.
2. Heat a grill or grill pan over medium-high heat until hot. Grill the burgers until cooked to an internal temperature of at least 160 degrees, about 2 to 3 minutes per side. When the burgers are done, place a slice of mozzarella on each burger and tent with foil while preparing the buns.
3. Warm the rolls: Wrap the rolls in foil and place on the top rack of the grill, or place in a warm oven until warmed through.
4. In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, balsamic vinegar and remaining minced clove garlic. This makes a scant one-half cup vinaigrette.
5. Assemble the sliders: Place a cheese-topped patty on the base of the bun, add a slice of tomato and 2 basil leaves. Drizzle each burger with 1 teaspoon of the vinaigrette. Serve immediately.
Each slider: 267 calories; 16 grams protein; 16 grams carbohydrates; 1 gram fiber; 15 grams fat; 5 grams saturated fat; 49 mg cholesterol; 3 grams sugar; 313 mg sodium.
Total time: 1 hour, 15 minutes
Note: From Paul Lindsay of Pasadena
Howie red onions
1 pound red onions
1 quart red wine vinegar
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1. Cut the red onions into one-eighth-inch-thick slices. Set aside.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the red wine vinegar, sugar, salt and pepper, making sure everything is dissolved
3. In a medium-sized heavy-bottomed pot, combine the onions and vinegar mixture. Cook over high heat, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is reduced by half and the onions are softened, light pink to purple in color and slightly translucent, about 30 minutes. Pour the mixture into a shallow glass baking dish and cool before using. This makes about 2 cups of Howie red onions.
1 tablespoon light brown sugar
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 cup Dijon mustard
2 cups mayonnaise
In a medium bowl, whisk together the light brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, heavy cream and ground black pepper. Mix in the Dijon mustard and mayonnaise. This makes about 2 2/3 cups Dijonnaise, more than is needed for the remainder of the recipe. The Dijonnaise will keep, covered and refrigerated, up to 1 week.
4 (8-ounce) ground beef patties
8 slices Gruyere cheese
2 cups Howie red onions, or to taste
Scant ¾ cup Dijonnaise, or to taste
4 hamburger buns or English muffins
4 cups shredded iceberg lettuce
1. Heat a grill over medium-high heat until hot. Grill the burgers to desired doneness, about 2 to 4 minutes on each side for medium.
2. Just before pulling the burgers off the grill, top each patty with one-half cup Howie onions. Place 2 slices Gruyere over the onions and continue cooking until the cheese is fully melted. Remove and set aside in a warm place.
3. Toast the buns on the grill, and slather the top half of each with a scant 3 tablespoons Dijonnaise. Place about 1 cup shredded lettuce on the bottom of each toasted bun, place the burger on top and then cover with the top of the bun. Serve immediately.
Each serving: 1,103 calories; 66 grams protein; 55 grams carbohydrates; 4 grams fiber; 64 grams fat; 22 grams saturated fat; 224 mg cholesterol; 26 grams sugar; 1,501 mg sodium.
Hoad's hot jalapeno burger
Total time: 40 minutes, plus chilling time. Serves 4
1 1/2 pounds ground beef
1 cup chopped green onions
2 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 teaspoon dry mustard
1 1/2 teaspoons Tajin clasico seasoning or taco seasoning
Habanero or other hot chile powder
2 to 3 fresh jalapeño peppers, sliced, or sliced canned jalapeños
4 slices of pepper jack cheese
4 jalapeño cheese bagels, toasted
Lettuce for garnish
Fresh avocado slices, for garnish
Hot sauce, preferably homemade or Frank's
1. In a large bowl, mix together the ground beef, green onions, garlic, mustard and taco seasoning. Divide the mixture and form into 4 patties. Cover and refrigerate the patties at least 1 hour to give the flavors time to marry.
2. Heat the grill and season both sides of each patty with habanero powder. Grill the patties on both sides to desired doneness, topping the burgers just before they are done with sliced jalapeños and cheese.
3. Serve the burgers in the toasted buns, garnish as desired with lettuce, avocado slices and hot sauce.
Each serving: calories 672; protein: 49 grams; carbohydrates: 60 grams; fiber: 4 grams; fat: 25 grams; saturdated fat: 12 grams; cholesterol: 129 mg; sugar: 3 grams; sodium: 925 mg.