Claims to the origination of the Juicy Lucy are hotly debated, but we do know the first versions emerged from Minneapolis, Minnesota, and spread around the country from there. And anyway, who really cares? It’s a burger with gooey delicious cheese in the middle. That’s what really matters. I made two versions for this recipe, one plain-old cheese-filled patty, and one with the addition of pickled hot peppers. Let your imagination run wild. Just remember that, as with topping a pizza, moderation in stuffing a patty is key, or you’ll never get the burger to hold together.
24 oz your preferred ground beef
6 oz colby cheese, or whatever you decide to use
1 oz pickled hot peppers, or make your own (see below)
4 hamburger buns
lettuce, tomato, red onion, mayo, mustard – you know the drill
salt and black pepper, to taste
Divide the ground beef into four 6-ounce portions. Then divide each portion into two balls, about two-thirds to one-third by weight. To form the patties, it helps to have a ring mold somewhere around 4 inches in diameter. You can also use a large cookie cutter, or even the lid to a sour cream container in a pinch.
Pat the larger portion of the patty out into a flat disk the diameter of your mold and place it inside. Form a lip around the edge so that you have a meat crater. Place 1.5 ounces of shredded cheese inside the crater. Add a scattering of peppers if you desire.
(If you want to make your own, it’s really easy. Bring to a boil 1 cup of white wine vinegar, 2 cups of water, 1 teaspoon of salt, 1/3 cup of sugar and a clove of garlic. While you’re doing that, slice your preferred hot peppers into thin rounds. When the brine boils, pour it over the peppers. Cover with plastic and let sit for at least 15 minutes. That’s it.)
Pat out the smaller portion of meat into a flat patty large enough to cover the crater. Place it on top of the cheese. Using your fingertips, poke down around the outside of the patty to crimp the two sides together. Remove the mold and check the patty for holes. If you find any, pinch them together the best you can. Repeat with the other three burgers.
Refrigerate well. When you’re ready to cook, season with salt and pepper. Preheat a cast iron pan or your favorite burger cooking implement in your wood oven. Cook the burgers until they’re warm inside. Remove, put on a bun, top as you see fit, eat, and be proud of America.