Cast Iron Fried Onion Cheeseburgers
Why This Recipe Works
During the Depression, enterprising cooks in Oklahoma discovered they could use less meat without reducing portion size by mashing thinly sliced onions into beef patties. This trick not only bulked up the patties, it created a delicious layer of caramelized onions on the outside that infused the meat with extra richness. We wanted to adapt this technique for the home cook for juicy and tender burgers that focused on flavor, not thrift. To make these enhanced burgers, we first sliced an onion as thin as possible and then salted the slices to draw out all the extra moisture so they'd brown and caramelize fully. To further reduce the moisture content, we squeezed the salted onion in a dish towel. We then formed the patties by making a small mound of onion, placing a loosely formed ball of ground beef on top, and pressing the beef into the onion. We cooked the patties, onion side down, over gentle and steady heat provided by our cast-iron skillet until the onion layer developed a deep golden-brown color and began to crisp. To finish the burgers, we simply flipped them and turned up the heat to develop light browning on the second side. Layering the finished burgers on top of—rather than beneath—a slice of American cheese kept the onion crisp.