The Juicy Lucy
There are certain recipes that I just know I’ll get flak for when I post. These recipes tend to fall into two categories:
The first category is traditional or family recipes. Things like shrimp and grits can cause a firestorm because everybody thinks they have the ultimate way to make it and you’re in trouble if you make it any other way. It’s my experience that this is almost never true and there are usually different, delicious ways to make the same thing.
The second category is a little different and this Juicy Lucy Recipe falls squarely in that zone. It’s recipes that I want to adapt from popular restaurants. Sometimes (like in this case) I’ve never even been to the restaurant. If you think that’s going to stop me from trying to reproduce it you would be wrong.
After all, if you watch the Travel Channel or Food Network for more than 17 minutes, you’ll see a segment where they visit one of two classic Minneapolis institutions that make something called “The Juicy Lucy.”
Essentially, it’s a burger stuffed with cheese. Like… way stuffed with cheese. It’s so stuffed that the cheese sort of erupts out of the burger when you bite into it.
So, if you’ve been to Minneapolis and are a Juicy Lucy zealot, feel free to yell at me in the comments for doing something wrong. But, for everyone else, here’s how you make one helluva good burger.
1) Split ground beef into three 6-ounce balls. Then split each of those balls in half to have 6 3-ounce balls. Smash each of those balls into flat patties.
2) Fold your cheese slices into quarters and stack each slice onto a 3-ounce patty. Cover it with another patty and seal it around the edges so the cheese is completely enclosed. Take your time to make sure the burgers are even and sealed well. Season each burger with salt and pepper and make a small indent in the center of each one.
3) To cook the burgers, add a small drizzle of olive oil to a cast iron skillet over medium heat. Add the burgers and cook for 5-6 minutes per side until they are cooked through. At the end of cooking, I recommend adding a drizzle of water and quickly covering the skillet with a lid or big bowl to steam the burgers quickly.
Serve the juicy lucys immediately on toasted buns with condiments.
Juicy Lucy Recipe
The Cheese Trick
There are three tricks to making this burger work, in my opinion.
The first trick is to use cheap cheese. You don’t want something fancy. Even cheddar is too fancy and won’t get properly melted. You want American cheese or Velveeta slices. Something that melts into a river. That’s what you want.
The second trick is to make big burgers. 1/3 of a pound per burger is about the minimum that will work.
If you’re starting with a pound of beef, divide it into 6-ounce balls and then split each of those in half. Flatten them into patties and then stack your cheese on a half. You want to use a whole slice per burger. You might think you could fit more, but I found that this was the most I could fit without it erupting out while it was cooking.
Take your time covering the cheese with the other half of each burger. Really shape the patty well, working out any air that might be in there and also sealing it well around the edges. Then season each patty with salt and pepper and make a small indent in the center of each one.
Cooking the Lucy
Cooking a juicy lucy is a little tricky. You can absolutely use a grill, but let me make the case for the skillet or griddle. If you make even a small mistake in your burger prep, then your cheese melts, it will leak out all over the place. If you are cooking on a grill, it’ll just spill between the grates. If you’re using a skillet, the cheese will actually sear and close up on the burger.
Think of it like cauterizing a burger wound.
The third trick on nailing this burger is heat control. You want to keep these on about medium heat. If you get them too hot, they will sear on the outside but not cook all the way through. Too low and you won’t get a sear.
The burgers are nice and thick and they will need to cook for 5-6 minutes per side. Patience is a virtue. Don’t mess with them too much or you run the risk of breaking through to the cheese.
The Steam Trick
To finish the cooking process and really make the cheese molten melted, I recommend adding some water to your pan and slapping on a lid or bowl. This will steam the burger, finishing the cooking process and also completely melting the cheese. Just 45-60 seconds will do the trick.
No need to top the burger with more cheese obviously so just serve it on a nicely toasted bun with your favorite toppings.
Be sure to warn your guests before they bite in because the cheese is hot and could maybe burn you if you weren’t ready for it!
Man is it messy and good though.
There you have it!
The next time you are making some Lucies, make them Juicies!