In the past, burgers have been thought of as casual fare, something to eat at a barbecue or at a fast-food restaurant. Recently, though, the lowly burger has become the darling of chefs all over the country, finding its way onto high-end restaurant menus everywhere.
Many of those fancy restaurants are producing fancy burgers, some topped with brie cheese or filled with foie gras. While I love a good cheeseburger, made with American cheese and topped with nothing but chopped onions and a little mustard, some of these chef-driven creations have inspired me to boost my burger game.
And my game needed some help. First, let’s be clear: Making a good burger is messy. Getting a beautifully seared patty requires high heat and creates a lot of splattering, which often dissuades me from making them at all.
So, I turned to the sheet pan to see if there was an easier, less greasy option.
Sheet-pan dinners are one of my favorite ways of making a complete meal with minimal mess. All of the elements of a meal go onto a pan, which is placed into a hot oven to roast until everything is perfectly cooked.
Well, not quite. For a sheet-pan dinner to produce a meal worth eating, every ingredient must be placed on the pan in order of its individual cooking times — with the ingredients that take the longest to cook going on first.
Take our sheet-pan burgers. I wanted to serve the burgers with crispy wedge fries, but if I put the potato wedges and burgers on at the same time, the burgers would be petrified hockey pucks before the potatoes even began to brown.
So, I put the potatoes on first and let them get almost completely cooked, along with a couple of thick slices of red onion, before adding the seasoned beef patties, which will need only a small amount of time in the oven.
While the burgers are cooked to the correct doneness, they do lack the browned exterior they would have if they were cooked in a skillet or griddle. Since there are few problems in life that wine can’t solve, I decided to reduce red wine to a glaze consistency and brush it on the burgers, giving them a beautiful mahogany finish. And since more wine is always better than less, I boosted the flavor by tossing the roasted onions in some of the glaze.
Taking my burger game to the next level, I topped the patties with blue cheese, which pairs wonderfully with red wine.
The result is a beautiful burger, with an addictively sophisticated flavor, all without having to spend the rest of my evening cleaning burger grease off my stove, cabinets and floors.
Meredith Deeds is a cookbook author and food writer from Edina. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter: @meredithdeeds.