Juicy Lucy’s: A Minnesota Classic

Welcome back to QCK!

I’ve really been looking forward to this post. If you don’t know what a Juicy Lucy is, it’s a burger but the cheese is on the inside. I’ll get into why that’s a big deal later on. But what’s really cool is that these burgers originated in Minnesota. Listen, the great state of Minnesota has invented A LOT of cool things, from frozen pizza, microwave popcorn and boxed cake mixes (you’re welcome fellow quarantiners) to the more useful things like the pop-up toaster and grocery bags with handles to some really important things like open heart surgery, the blood pump and of course, climate controlled shopping malls. We’re the great state of snacks and medicine. But of all those inventions, none measure up to the juicy lucy.

If you’re in Minnesota, you have to make a trip to Matt’s Bar in Minneapolis to try out the best of the best for yourself. I mean Obama ate there if that tells you anything. They have a super small menu, burgers, fries, chicken sandwhich and grilled cheese plus beer and soft drinks. Nothing fancy but that’s kind of the point. I think it’s $7 for a Juicy Lucy and maybe $3 for fries, cheapest and most delicious meal in Minneapolis. Oh and cash only!

If you’re into trying something fun, 5-8 in Minneapolis and St. Paul has a Pb&J Juicy Lucy that’s insanely good along with a lot of other great variations.

So what’s the big deal with with the cheese? The big deal with the cheese in the middle is that while the burger is cooking, the beef fat melts into the cheese. So you get this molten lava cheese center that’s practically infused with beef fat. You can mix a tablespoon of butter into your patty if you really want to drive it home. It’s amazing. A work of art, honestly.

There’s some debate over who actually made the first Juicy Lucy, but I’d like to know their thought process. I like to think whoever made it first was trying to hide the cheese. Like “if I can’t see it the calories don’t count!”. Or maybe trying to get back at an enemy by scorching their mouth with burning hot beef fat cheese? Most likely they were just trying to be cool and inventive but I like my stories better.

Tips and Tricks

  • You want two fairly thin patties. If you the beef part of the burger gets too thick, the cheese will melt before the meat cooks all the way and you’ll end up with either an underdone burger or premature oozing.
  • You also want the patties to be thick enough that the cheese doesn’t cook too fast or become exposed.
  • Burgers are best made in a cast iron skillet, always.
  • I always suggest using 80% lean, 20% fat ground beef for burgers, if you’re using a leaner mix for this reciper, add a tablespoon or two of butter to your burger meat.
  • If you want to get fancy with the cheese, you can. But I like to just stick with good old Kraft singles for this because they melt perfectly.
  • Traditionally, the Juicy Lucy is just served with mayo, ketchup and pickles. Sometimes sautéd onions. You can add whatever you want to your burger, but classics are classics for a reason.

The most important step to making a really good burger (!!!) is to work your meat before you start making the actual burgers. What I mean is that you want to take the beef out of the package and put it in a bowl. Then with either a wooden spoon or an electric mixer with a paddle, or with clean hands (this is how I do it, I think it’s the best method), just mix it up and work it until you see the fat start to activate. You’ll know its ready because rather than a red slab of ground beef, it’ll be pink with white streaks (the white is the fat). This means your fat and lean meat are fully combined. Why does it matter? The fat will work in two ways, first the excess that melts off in the pan will help give the burger nice crispy edges; second, the rest will melt and drip through the inside of the burger, keeping it nice and juicy rather than dry and crumbly.

Recipe

Prep: 5 MinsCook: 10 MinsDifficulty: EasyServings: 4

Ingredients

  • 1 lb Ground Beef, 80/20 mix
  • 4 Slices Kraft Singles American Cheese, torn up
  • 4 Burger Buns, toasted
  • Salt to taste
  • Mayo, optional
  • Ketchup, optional
  • Pickle Slices, optional

Directions

  1. Add the ground beef to a medium bowl and using either an electric mixer fitted with a paddle, a wooden spoon, or clean hands, mix the beef until the fat and lean meat begins to emulsify. 2-3 minutes. You’ll know it’s ready when the meat is more of a light pink with white rather than red. This means the fat and lean are combined and you’ll get a better texture to your burgers.
  2. Measure out 1/4 lb balls, squish them down just slightly, and make a dent in the center big enough to fit the torn up Kraft Singles.
  3. Add the cheese to the center and form the beef into a ball around the cheese.
  4. Squish the ball into a patty, making sure no cheese is exposed.
  5. In a cast iron pan, on high heat with a drizzle of canola oil, cook the patties all the way through, 5-8 minutes.
  6. Toast the buns and add any toppings you like.
  7. Place the burger on the bun and let it cool down or cut in half before eating. This is because the cheese in the middle is still extremely hot.

As always, I hope you enjoyed this recipe! If you tried it out let me know in the comments. For more recipes check out my homepage and follow along on Instagram. Don’t forget to like, follow, comment and share. Thanks for reading! 

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