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» Cheeseburger + Bacon fat = Awesome
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Cheeseburger + Bacon fat = Awesome

By • Sep 8th, 2009 • Category: Burger Blog

Like so many of us, I fired up my grill this Labor Day weekend to celebrate the unofficial end of summer.  And while I had a definite taste for cheeseburgers, I wanted to try something just a little different.  Even though grating fresh cheese into the patties has become my favorite way of doing cheebies on the grill, I was hungry for a slightly different technique.  I consulted my cookbooks, and shouldn’t have been the least bit surprised by the answer I got.

Once again, it was bacon to the rescue.

baconfrying

I found a recipe that mixed 1 tablespoon of bacon fat into each half-pound of beef to give the burgers an extra-smoky kick.  So before I lit the coals, I fried up a few batches of some artisanal hickory-smoked bacon I’d been saving for just the right occasion.  Still reeling from the Baconator bust I’d experienced recently, I thought my own backyard version might leave a better taste in my mouth.

As per the recipe, I used a leaner beef than is normal for me.  I usually buy an 80/20 blend (twenty percent fat) for my burgers; these called for an 85/15 instead.  This would keep the burgers from becoming too greasy, since I’d be adding straight bacon fat into the mix.  Still, the recipe called for a binding agent, too- a simple paste of milk and white bread.  (That’s a “panade” to gourmet geeks.)

burgersongrill

The binding worked; the burgers held up exceptionally well on the grill.  No trouble like the turkey tearing I had a few weeks back.  Rather than risk overcooking the burgers just to melt the cheese on top, I got the burgers to the exact doneness I wanted, and then took them off the fire.  Then on a baking sheet, I topped them with the waiting bacon and cheddar cheese, and covered them with an aluminum pan, trapping the residual heat inside to do the melting for me.  I went with cheddar, but since it doesn’t melt as evenly as American, I got it sliced paper-thin from the deli counter and then used double slices.  Now each slice could melt a little bit, into one nice gooey blanket, instead of hopelessly waiting for the same result from a standard slice.

burgerstented

(And yes, I opted for cheese-over-bacon placement instead of bacon-atop-cheese.  I like the cheese to coat the bacon and hold it all together.  But it’s like toilet paper: some people go over the roll, some go under the roll depending on preference.  Let the debate begin.)

baconfatburger

Fully-assembled on the bun, I must admit, this was damn near a work of art.  And it tasted like one, too.  The bacon fat unquestionably added a smoky flavor that I could never have achieved otherwise.  The leaner beef and panade did their jobs, as these cheeseburgers were not greasy in the least, but juicy and delicious.  And just for the record, my artisanal bacon kicked that little pigtailed girl’s ass.  This was no Wendy’s Baconator, for sure.  It was way better.

baconfatburger2

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