The Bistro Burger: a gourmet take on an American classic

The Bistro Burger: a gourmet take on an American classic


The weather here in the Tampa Bay area has been absolutely gorgeous lately, an has put me in the mood for some grilling action. I’ve had a hankering for a big juicy burger for ages, but I wanted to try something different than a plain old patty with American cheese on a boring bun.

I was at the book store and noticed the Sutter Home Build a Better Burger cook-off cookbook in the bargain section. It inspired me to create a gourmet burger of my own (and also reminded me that I had forgotten to enter last year, again). I didn’t find any one particular recipe that I wanted to use, but it got my creative juices flowing. Fortunately, being a foodie, I usually have all sorts of fancy cheeses, condiments, etc. in my fridge and pantry, so I decided to throw together a “bistro burger” (I thought that name sounded better than: “fancy-schmancy burger”).

Recipe after the break:

Being the grill master that he is, I let my boyfriend cook the burgers and I played sous chef (for once). They turned out juicy and flavorful, with a nice garlicy kick. The trick he uses to get them to cook evenly is to make an indent in the center of the patties when forming them, so they won’t bubble up in the middle while cooking, thus the sides and center will cook to the perfect doneness at the same time. Also, when mixing up the burger meat, don’t overwork it — it’ll seize up when cooked and you’ll have small, rock hard burgers.

I chose to use a loaf of French bread to serve as the buns and grilled them so they wouldn’t become soggy from the burgers or condiments. The flavors from the Jarlsberg cheese, basil, caramelized onions, arugula, and maple mustard, along with the garlic in the burger, complemented each other very well, and the texture of the grilled bun topped it all off. It was like a swanky gourmet party in my mouth. This was truly a burger to remember. We also made some grilled vegetable kabobs for a side dish and paired the burgers with a bottle of Brooklyn Brewery’s Local One.

Bistro Burgers
(makes 4 large burgers)
1 1/2 pounds ground chuck
1 egg, beaten
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 teaspoon Citrus Bay seasoning
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper, freshly ground

Caramelized onions
4 slices proscuitto
2 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped
Jarlsberg or swiss cheese, sliced (enough for 4 burgers)
1 loaf of French bread (not the skinny loaf kind), cut to make 4 buns then split horizontally
2 tablespoons butter, melted
Arugula lettuce
Maple dijon mustard*

1. Heat grill to medium-high. To prepare burger patties: combine the chuck, egg, garlic, and seasonings in a large bowl, handling as little as possible. Shape into four patties. Cover and set aside.
2. Prepare caramelized onions.
3. When the grill is ready, brush the grill rack with oil and/or grill spray. Place the patties on the rack, cover, and cook, turning once, until done to preference, 5 to 7 minutes on each side for medium. During the last 5 minutes of grilling, place a slice of proscuitto on each patty. In the last two minutes, divide the basil between the burgers and sprinkle on top, place the cheese slices on top of the basil.
4. Brush the inside of the buns with melted butter. Place the buns, cut side down, on the outer edges of the rack to toast lightly during the last 2 minutes of grilling.
5. To assemble the burgers: spread each piece of bread with the maple mustard. Top bun bottom with burger patty, caramelized onions, arugula, and bun top.

*If you don’t have maple dijon mustard, either mix together 1 part pure maple syrup (not pancake syrup) with three parts dijon mustard, or simply use dijon mustard.

Fun Extras:
Here are some ideas, tips, and print-outs for your next burger bash!

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