Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Crave Wednesday: Caramelized Onion-and-Blue Cheese Mini Burgers

The second section of  Cooking Light's CRAVE! is the burger section.  So over the next weeks I'll be sharing burgers - beefy burgers, poultry burgers, even vegetarian burgers!

The first burger in the chapter, topped with caramelized onions and blue cheese brings me to one of my favorite burger experiences of my childhood.  And yes, I have several favorite burger experiences of my childhood.  If you think about it, you probably do too - whether it's a backyard barbecue, or a roadside stand you stopped at during a family vacation.  Burgers are one of those classic, American-feel-good meals.

This particular experience I owe to a bar.  I know, I said "childhood" and here I am talking about a bar.  But we didn't have many restaurant options in the town I grew up in.  I mean sure, we had fast food.  There was even a song we learned in our choral classes where we counted the pizza huts and McDonalds.  But non-fast food was harder to come by. 

So we didn't eat out much.  For birthdays, we actually drove 45 minutes to go out to dinner, making a whole day out of it.    But whenever I was in a show with the local theater, we would go out opening night to the bar that was just down from the theater.  There, Thatbrother and I would intently work on our children's placemats, because completion of the word search meant a dixie cup of Swedish fish.  And we ordered Shirley Temples which came bearing a spear of maraschino cherries.  On a red dye #40 and sugar high, we were in kid heaven.  It was our favorite restaurant.

And dinner for me always consisted of the biggest, juiciest hamburger, topped with blue cheese and bacon.  I've never shied away from blue cheese, but I'm sure this was not a burger I picked off the menu.  I have vague recollections of Thatdad ordering it, and taking a bite of his.  Whatever the introduction, it was my staple.   To this day, years later, a bacon blue cheese burger is my favorite kind of burger.

This is not a bacon blue cheese burger, but it's close.  Instead of bacon, the burger is piled high with caramelized onions, trading the salty crunch of bacon with the sweetness of onions that have been cooked over a low heat until they almost turn to sugar themselves.  Since I'm past the age of eating my weight in Swedish fish and maraschino cherries I've got to get my sweetness elsewhere.  It's a nice pairing with the tang blue cheese brings.  Both complement the meat, which in turn highlights the cheese and onion. 

Caramelized Onion-and-Blue Cheese Mini Burgers (From Cooking Light)
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
cooking spray
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
1 lb ground sirloin
2 Tbsp mayonaise
1 1/2 Tbsp crumbled blue cheese
8 slider buns, toasted
1 1/2 cups arugula
8 thin tomato slices

  1.  Heat a medium nonstick skillet over medium high heat.  Add onion to the pan, coat onion with cooking spray.  Cook 15 minutes, stirring frequently, until tender nad browned.  Remove pan from heat.
  2. Finely chop 1/4 cup onion, and place in a medium bowl, reserving remaining onion in pan.
  3. Add salt, pepper, and beef to caramelized onion in bowl; mix well.  
  4. Divide beef mixture into 8 equal portions, shaping each into a 1/4 inch thick patty.
  5.  Heat a grill pan over medium high heat.  Place patties on grill pan.  Grill 3 minutes on each side, until a thermometer registers 160 or until desired degree of doneness.
  6. Place mayonnaise and blue cheese in a food processor, process until smooth.  Spread blue cheese mixture evenly on bottom halves of buns.
  7. Place 1 patty on bottom half of each bun.  
  8. Top patties evenly with arugula, tomato slices, and remaining caramelized onion; cover with bun tops.