Paula: When I make burgers, I always go for freshly ground meat. If you buy packed meat that resembles a hockey puck, chances are your burgers will have the same dense texture.
Scott: I’ve eaten a few McDensities with cheese over the years and I couldn’t agree more. Freshly ground meat is a must for a killer burger. I’m not afraid to mix in a bit of pork sausage with my ground meat if I’m really trying hard to impress. Why is that so tasty?
Paula: Why are all things pig so tasty? A question as old as time. Totally agree that a 50/50 mix of ground chuck with ground pork, chorizo, or even lamb results in a wildly delicious and juicy burger. Remember a few years ago, when a bunch of fancy chefs were making burgers with Benton’s bacon--and what’s not to love? A mix of best quality beef plus diced bacon, that renders its tasty fat while the burger sizzles over a charcoal fire, is sure to put a song in your heart (and fire in your belly).
Scott: I really dislike the modern proliferation of the initialism OMG, but sometimes it’s the tool that fits. OMG, ground pork is my love language.
Paula: Any interest in helping me bring back the “patty melt” of yore? Do you think “patty” is a funny word?
Scott: I’ve been meaning to tell you that everyone in the office calls you Patty.
Bacon Cheeseburgers with Thundering Longhorn
- 2 pounds freshly ground beef sirloin
- 6 ounces thick-cut Applewood smoked bacon, diced into ¼-inch cubes
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- ¼ cup Thundering Longhorn
- Kosher salt
- 4 slices white Cheddar
- Sliced red onion, for serving
- Leaf lettuce, for serving
- Creole mustard, for serving
- 4 burger buns, split
Combine the beef, bacon, Worcestershire, and Thundering Longhorn and use your hands to combine the mixture, being careful not to overwork the meat. Divide into four portions. Form each portion into a patty that’s about 1-inch wider than your burger buns, pressing gently until they hold together. For a slight dimple in the center of each patty. Set aside while you build a fire or refrigerate for up to 4 hours.
Prepare a charcoal grill for two-zone cooking, and build a medium fire, or heat a gas grill to high. When the coals are glowing red and covered with a fine gray ash, add a couple wood chunks to the fire, and then clean and oil the grates. When the fire begins to produce a steady stream of smoke, place the burgers over direct heat and cook for 10-12 minutes, flipping and rotating as needed for even cooking (move patties away from the fire if flare-ups occur of if they’re browning too fast), until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the burger reads 130°F for medium-rare or 135°F for medium. Top the burgers with a sprinkle of salt and cheese slices during the last minute of cooking (the cheese will continue to melt as the meat rests).
Transfer the burgers to a plate to rest for about 5 minutes while you toast the buns until they’re golden brown, 1 to 2 minutes. Spread the bottom of the buns with Creole mustard, top with leaf lettuce and burgers. Top the burgers with sliced red onions and your favorite condiments and dig in.
Grill-side banter provided by food writer, cookbook author and grilling enthusiast, Paula Disbrowe, and infamous grill nerd and co-owner of PK Grills, Scott Moody.
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