If you’re of a certain age and you remember, or maybe you’re just addicted to vintage “Saturday Night Live” skits, the culinary battle cry of “Cheeseburger! Cheeseburger! Cheeseburger!” will probably make you roar with laughter, feel really hungry, or a little bit of both. Though September 18th is National Cheeseburger Day, who needs a reason to salute and savor this sizzling American classic?
For so many of us, the thought of a juicy grilled burger for lunch topped with velvety, melting Swiss, cheddar, Jarlsberg, gruyere, pepper jack, muenster, bleu cheese–even traditional American cheese is enough to bring us up from the beach or straight off the trail. In the kitchen or as the star of a backyard barbecue or hibachi picnic in the park, creative cheeseburgers can be crowned with bacon, tomato (try sun-dried!), red onion, guacamole, teriyaki sauce, sauerkraut, relish, barbecue sauce, sautéed onions and mushrooms, roasted eggplant, chili, pineapple, ham, salsa, chipotle or jalapeno peppers–or maybe a tasty grouping of these (why stop at one or two?)!
The Origin of the Cheeseburger
Though some reports claim otherwise, among the most widely accepted accounts of the origin of the cheeseburger is that it was born in 1924, a creation of young Lionel Clark Sternberger who was a chef in his father’s Pasadena, California restaurant: The Rite Spot. The cheeseburger, known as “The Aristocratic Burger,” is the first recorded instance of a hamburger with cheese being cooked and served to a customer.
Standard as bar food (sliders and a cold one, anyone?!), and elevated in more recent times to tempt discriminating diners at a host of posh eateries, off-the-charts cheeseburgers using Kobe beef, brie cheese, caviar or truffles can pique the palate though not without poking a few holes in the pocketbook. And if beef is not your bailiwick, variations can include using ground turkey or chicken, with many of today’s veggie burgers on the market supremely tasty (try the ones made with black beans for extra protein and fiber, or make the recipe below).
Try these twist-on-tradition recipes for kicked-up cheeseburgers, and celebrate National Cheeseburger Day in very good taste!
Bleu Cheese Burgers
2 tablespoon plain yogurt
2 tablespoons crumbled blue cheese
1 tablespoon mayonnaise
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 1/2 pounds lean ground beef
3 green onion, thinly sliced
1/4 cup chopped green bell pepper
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
6 Kaiser rolls, split
For sauce, in a small bowl stir together yogurt, bleu cheese, mayonnaise, and mustard. Cover and chill until serving time.
Crumble ground beef into a large bowl. Add green onion, bell pepper, salt and pepper; mix well. Shape mixture into six 3/4-inch-thick patties.
Grill patties on an uncovered grill directly over medium coals for 14 to 18 minutes or until meat is no longer pink, turning once. Top with bleu cheese sauce.
Black Bean Veggie Cheeseburgers
1 (16 ounces) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 green bell pepper, cut into 2-inch pieces
1/2 onion, cut into wedges
3 cloves garlic, peeled
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon cumin
1 teaspoon Thai chili sauce or hot sauce
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
Sliced cheese of your choice
If grilling, preheat an outdoor grill for high heat and lightly oil a sheet of aluminum foil. If baking, preheat oven to 375 degrees and lightly oil a baking sheet.
In a medium bowl, mash black beans with a fork until thick and pasty.
In a food processor, finely chop bell pepper, onion, and garlic. Stir into mashed beans.
In a small bowl, stir together egg, chili powder, cumin, and chili sauce. Stir egg mixture into mashed beans. Mix in bread crumbs until mixture is sticky and holds together. Divide mixture into four patties.
If grilling, place patties on foil and grill about 8 minutes on each side. Top with slices of cheese in the last couple of minutes. If baking, place patties on baking sheet and bake about 10 minutes on each side. Top with cheese in the last couple of minutes.
What’s your favorite kind of cheese to melt on a burger?
Tell us in the comments below!