Long Boy CheeseburgersBy Todd • Jan 29th, 2010 • Category: Burger Blog
I’m generally pretty skeptical about non-cheeseburger cheeseburgers. You know, cheeseburger pizzas, cheeseburger pies, cheeseburger-inspired soups, etc. I did give Paula Deen’s bacon cheeseburger meatloaf a whirl once… and wished I hadn’t. To be honest, most knockoffs suck. If you want a cheeseburger, get a damn cheeseburger. It’s not a difficult item to get your hands on.
But I found a recipe recently that sparked my interest, for something called a Long Boy Burger.
The quotation marks around “burger” worried me a bit. I don’t want a “burger.” You could serve up a giant steaming dog turd and call it a “burger” if you slap quotes around it on the menu. But this recipe came from Cook’s Country, a trusted source for traditional comfort foods. So I dove in for this cheebie change-of-pace. The first hint that we’d be straying from the norm was the recipe’s secret-weapon ingredient:
Yeah, crushed cornflakes. I quickly discovered that what I was making was a close cousin to meatloaf; the cornflakes were the binding agent, replacing the bread crumbs or crackers or quick-cooking oats found in other typical meatloaf recipes.
This mixture used a lean 90/10 beef for minimal greasiness, along with many of a meatloaf’s usual suspects: ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, onion, garlic powder, a beaten egg. Once kneaded together, the mixture was spread on toasted hoagie bun halves. (The burgers were to be served open-face. Unorthodox, I decided, but not a dealbreaker.)
The Long Boys were now ready for a topcoat of ketchup. I’m not a ketchup guy, but I’d come to grips with the fact that these were meatloaf sandwiches, and some sort of glaze on top is practically a meatloaf requirement.
Into the oven they went, elevated on a wire baking rack to keep the buns from getting soggy, for 25 minutes or so. When they came out, all these cheeseburger change-ups needed was… cheese.
We true aficionados know that nothing beats American cheese for meltiness. But it was pretty clear that you could customize these Boys with whatever cheese suits your fancy. I stayed true to the recipe for my first time out, using a mild cheddar.
After a final 5 minutes, the cheddar had blanketed itself beautifully over the burgs, dripping in all the right places. No burnt edges or tops. No disgusting lakes of grease in the bottom of the pan, a staple with ordinary meatloaf. Draped in gooey cheese and perched on toasted oversized buns, these looked to be the perfect hybrid of meatloaf and cheeseburger.
(Dear God, look at that. That’s like cheeseburger porn. All that’s missing is Padma Lakshmi.)
I’m all for trying new and unusual twists on the cheeseburger. But there is a fine line: at what point in doctoring it up does it no longer qualify as a cheeseburger? Would this taste like meatloaf-on-a-bun, with some cheese just for kicks… or would this be a true cheeseburger experience, minus half a bun (and plus the subtle hint of breakfast cereal)?
I’ll call it a little bit of both. The seasoning, the ketchup glaze, the texture… it all screamed meatloaf. But very tasty meatloaf, so I’m not complaining. The bun, the cheese, the lack of forks… that was pure cheeseburger, baby. I’d wager that you could crown it with a top bun and make it even more cheebie-like. (Holy crap, I might just try that with the leftovers. And you KNOW how good leftover meatloaf already is.)
The Long Boy might not be a true cheeseburger, an interchangeable stand-in for the real thing. But it’s a welcome addition to my roster of homemade cheeseburger options.