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» The “Grate” Cheese Experiment
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The “Grate” Cheese Experiment

By • May 23rd, 2009 • Category: Burger Blog

A few months ago, I stumbled across a new recipe for grilled cheeseburgers.  It called for mixing grated cheese with raw ground beef before grilling instead of simply melting a slice of cheese atop a plain burger after cooking.

grated1

It bordered on blasphemy.  “Cheesing” a burger (if I may use it as a verb) as it comes off the grill is simply the only way it’s done, right?  It was certainly the only technique I had ever used, but the promise of gooey melted cheese thoroughly incorporated into every single bite of the burger was alluring, to say the least.

As I thought about it more, I realized that knowing exactly when to cheese can be a pretty tricky thing.  Too soon, and all the cheese melts off and ends up splattered on the coals below before the burger is even done.  Too late, and you never get good “meltage.” (That’s the last word I make up today, I promise.)  Or even worse, you risk overcooking the burger just to get the cheese right.  I decided that the grated cheeseburger was worth a shot.

The results were lackluster at best.  My biggest complaint was that the burgers didn’t hold their shape very well on the grill.  Several threatened to just fall apart as I flipped them, which is, of course, completely unacceptable.  I chalked it up to a recipe that didn’t really work, and I forgot about it.

Until…

Weeks later, I was checking out another recipe, this time for Wisconsin-style cheese soup.  It specified that I use pre-packaged, pre-shredded, bagged cheese from the supermarket instead of grating my own by hand.  According to the recipe, pre-shredded bagged cheese has cornstarch added to it to prevent it from clumping in the bag.  And since you don’t want clumpy soup, it was perfect for this application.

That got me thinking about my fall-apart burgers.  I had used pre-shredded cheese because that’s what had been in the fridge that day.  I realized that maybe what those burgers really needed, while not the word I would immediately choose, was a little… clumping.  If pre-shredded cheese prevents clumping, I reasoned, maybe those burgers would have held their shape better with block cheese that I grated myself.

My Memorial Day mission was to find out.

grating

I bought a block of cheddar and grated away, mixing the soft shreds into the beef.  As I worked the mixture into balls and then patties, I could already feel a difference.  These were sticking together nicely.  And just to really compare apples to apples, so to speak, I made one burger with the same kind of pre-shredded cheese as before.

sidebyside

The burger on the right is the pre-shredded test burger.  It looked different.   A little ragged.  Loose.  Cracked, even.  Like it wasn’t really holding together the same as the others.

ongrill

On the grill, the freshly-grated cheese melted a lot faster.  It made a mess on the grill.  Much of that gooey goodness was oozing right out of the patties and dripping onto the hot coals.  I was scared that I had made a terrible mistake.  I had to be more careful maneuvering the pre-shredded burger (bottom right) around the grill, but at least the cheese was staying put.

offgrill

Coming off the grill, the test burger was barely hanging on.  I could actually see through one of the cracks in it.  The others all looked better, but how would they taste? That’s all that truly matters, right?

No contest, as it turns out.  With the store-bought pre-shred, there was a hint of cheese taste, but it wasn’t prominent.  You had to kind of concentrate to find the cheddar flavor.  The freshly-grated cheese, by contrast, absolutely exploded in my mouth.  These burgers were moist, juicy, and totally cheesy.  My 5-year-old called them the best burgers I’ve ever made.  My mom, visiting for the weekend, started taking notes so she could pass the grating tip along to my stepdad back home.  Granted, those opinions both come from some obviously not-impartial parties, but, hey, a compliment is a compliment.

It was a very unscientific experiment, to be sure, but one that made a believer out of me.  Grated cheese mixed into ground beef makes for a superb cheeseburger if you’re willing to put in some extra effort.  And while grabbing a bag of shredded cheese at the supermarket may have seemed like a time-saver, taking the time to grate my own took this backyard burger from a novelty act to a true superstar worthy of an encore.

3 Responses to “The “Grate” Cheese Experiment”

  1. 1
    Kyle Says:

    I think the solution here is genetically modified cows that process their own milk into cheese and replace fat tissue with it naturally XD

    Could you imagine that, an emmental cow, a guriere cow, a brie cow or even cross breeding to get multi cheese flavoured beef….

    oh great how I have to get a tissue and clean up my drool… better make it a towel

  2. 2
    Jasmine Peters Says:

    what is that supose to be cuz that does not look good at all (no afence)

  3. 3
    jody Says:

    Thanks for the tip about grating the cheese at home. I was able to make some delicious and juicy homemade burgers for dinner tonight. The whole family loved them.

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