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Crafting Mini Burgers With Wisconsin Cheese

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I have been in contact with Wisconsin Cheese for quite a while. Earlier this summer, they told me about the launch of Cheeseburgers Across America. The Cheese & Burger Society presented ten flavor-packed cheeseburger recipes, each named after a US city, featuring selected Wisconsin cheeses. More recently, they offered to send me some of their specialty cheeses for me to use, more specifically, to craft together a delicious cheeseburger. In addition, they have provided some Cheese & Burger Society merchandise for a giveaway.

Although I’m lactose intolerant, I am still very much fond of cheese as well as other dairy products, like ice cream and yogurt. I generally avoid cheese (and dairy) in most of my meals, but occasionally I make exceptions. Honestly, I’m pretty bad at keeping a restricted food diet, but that’s a whole different story on its own. In brief, I focus on being conscious of the food/ingredients and keeping things in moderation.
So when they asked me what kind of cheese I would like to use, I asked them to recommend me some hard cheeses. Hard cheese tend to have low to minimal levels of lactose in it, making them a more lactose intolerant friendly options. They suggested Aged Cheddar (from Widmer’s or Hook’s), Gruyere (from Emmi Roth), or Gouda (from Marieke). In the end, I went with the gruyere cheese.

My thoughts on making a delicious cheeseburger is quite simple. A delicious cheeseburger doesn’t need tons of ingredients or special abilities. All the magic is basically in the meat (or protein), cheese, and bread. Just focus on those components, use quality ingredients, and you can form a pretty satisfying burger. Everything else would just be a bonus, like an addition of a fried egg or something.

So, I went with a minimalist approach in constructing these burgers, with a slight twist. I decided to make two types of sliders – one with 100% ground beef and one vegetarian-friendly version. Instead of having a cheese on top of the burger patty, I proposed to place the cheese inside the patty and allow the cheese to melt as you cook the patties.

For burger patties, you’d generally want to use high quality ground meat that is about 20-30% fat. Sure that might sound like a lot, but the fat really helps add delicious goodness to the burger during the cooking process. To be conscious of your fat intake, aim for about an 80/20 lean meat-to-fat ratio. For the choice of cut, I picked chuck. For the vegetarian friendly version, I used Lightlife’s Gimme Lean Ground Beef Style TVP (textured soy protein) for the “meat.” It’s a nice product in my opinion and very easy to use in various recipes. To season the meat, I put together a very basic marinade using Worcestershire sauce and marinated the meat overnight.

Choice of protein:

A very basic marinade:

  • 4 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 tsp ginger powder
  • 1 tsp curry powder (or paprika)
  • salt and pepper

Cheese:

For the cheese, I was provided me with Grand Cru Gruyere, referred to as one of Emmi’s Roth USA finest cheeses. According to the Wisconsin Cheese website, Gruyere is describes as “Nutty, rich, full-bodied flavor made with traditional Swiss techniques in Wisconsin. Firm texture with scattered tiny eyes. Surface ripened with inedible brown rind.” I cut the cheese into mini slices, small enough so that it can be placed inside each patty. I cut a few extra slices on the side, just incase we wanted to add an extra slice of cheese between the buns as well.

To form the patties, I first rolled the meat into a small ball and then pressed the ball slightly to flatten it. For the beef burgers, I wrapped the meat around the cheese without enclosing it completely. For the vegetarian burgers, I created a small well in the ball, placed a piece of cheese in the well and rolled the patty shut. I just did that to see how it would look visually. I cooked patties over the stove in my cast iron skillet with a little bit of garlic-infused olive oil. Basically, I heated the olive oil, added some minced garlic, and let it cook for a bit before adding the meat.

Bread:

  • Whole wheat slider buns

Toppings:

  • Mixed greens
  • Extra slice of cheese, perhaps
  • … anything else you’d like

Once the patties are cooked, I placed them on top of a paper towel to absorb excess oil. I then proceed to assemble the sliders. I placed each patty between a lightly toasted whole wheat slider bun along with some mixed greens. They came out pretty neat looking! I like how the cheese just barely reveals itself. Once I cut the slider in half, you can see the cheese sitting snugly inside, not completely melted, but soft and gooey.

The cheeseburgers turned out great – simple, tasty, and not to mention, fun to make. The gruyere cheese had a nice sweet and nutty taste to it. Nice flavor. It went well with both the beef and the TVP.

What should I do with the remaining cheese? I turned to the Wisconsin Cheese website for some ideas. There’s a very useful resource Cheesecyclopedia that describes each type of cheeses along with serving suggestions, storage information, and food and wine pairings. For gruyere cheese, they suggest adding it to au gratin dishes or quiches, or using it for mac and cheese. Gruyere cheese goes well with veal, chicken, potatoes, apples, pears, grapes, pickles, and mustards. As for wine pairings, they suggest fruity white wines like Gewurztraminer and Sauvignon Blanc or red wines like Merlot and Cabernet Franc. I haven’t decided yet, but the mac and cheese sounds like a pleasant idea to me. They suggest using penne pasta and gruyere to put a twist in a traditional macaroni and cheese.

ANNOUNCEMENT:
The people at Wisconsin Cheese have offered to sponsor a giveaway where you can win some Cheese and Burger Society merchandise! Enter the giveaway: HERE. Ends Friday Sept 2nd 11:59pm EST.

Disclaimer: Wisconsin Cheese provided me with cheese and Cheese and Burger merchandise. No other compensation was received for this post. The post was written by LookyTasty and all opinions expressed are solely mine.

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