But putting aside that early season loss, the hamburger is really the overall winner—it has been able to climb from the humble grill grate to the menus of some of the most revered restaurants around the country. The simple formula of bun and patty has grown to include a dizzying array of permutations. (Foie Gras inside your burger? No problem.) While these high-priced novelty creations will come and go, a number of these new burgers will breakthrough and become standards.
For instance, the Camembert Burger, featured in Susan Herrmann Loomis’ new book French Grill, has a shot at such barbecue immortality. The big difference, of course, is that instead of cheddar (or, heaven forbid, American cheese) she uses the eponymous ooey-gooey French favorite and a garnish of sautéed apples and onions. While you may be scandalized by the idea of such a burger, the French are masters of cooking with cheese.
In this case, the camembert cheese “gives the burger a nutty, rich dimension,” Herrmann Loomis wrote in her book. “This is fantastic with hard apple cider or a microbrew.”
So this weekend if you’ re grilling or, better yet, attending a Bastille Day party, try making a batch of these cheeseburgers. Bon Appétit!
By Susan Herrmann Loomis
For the Burgers:
- 2 pounds Medium-fat ground beef
- Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- .5 tsp Ground allspice
- .5 cup Firmly packed, flat-leaf parsley leaves, minced
- 1 Camembert (about 8 ounces), skin left on, cut into quarter-inch strips, which you cut in half crosswise
For the Apples and the Onions:
- 2 Tbsp Unsalted butter, more if needed
- 1 Tbsp Olive oil, more if needed
- 12 ounces Onions, trimmed and thinly sliced
- Fine sea salt
- 4 medium (about 6 ounces) Flavorful apples, such as Pink Lady or Cox’s Orange Pippin, cored, peeled, and cut into a third of an inch sections
For the Finished Sandwich:
- 8 Hamburger buns
- About .25 cup Mayonnaise (optional but delicious)
- Place the ground meat in a medium bowl and add the seasonings and parsley.
- Mix all the ingredients together, preferably with your hands, so they are thoroughly combined. Take a small piece of the meat and cook and taste it so that you can adjust the seasoning to your liking. Form the meat into eight individual burgers, flattening them.
- Build a medium-size fire in the grill. When the coals are red and dusted with ash, divide them in the barbecue, putting half the coals on either side. Set the grill over the coals. If you’ve got one, light up the gas grill, too, using all three burners.
- First, prepare the onions and the apples. You can do this either on a plancha or in a cast-iron skillet right on the gas grill or the barbecue over a very hot fire. Melt the butter and the oil together and add the onions. Stir, season lightly with salt, cover the grill, and cook until the onions soften and turn golden, 5 to 8 minutes, checking them often and stirring to be sure they don’t burn. If they turn dark golden at the edges, don’t be concerned; this enhances their flavor. Remove the onions from the pan and add the apples, stirring into the remaining oil in the pan. (If there isn’t enough, add 2 teaspoons oil and a scant tablespoon of butter.) Cook the apples until they are golden, 3 minutes, stir, and continue to cook until they are tender and golden through, an additional 5 minutes. Remove from the pan. Taste both the onions and the apples for seasoning, and reserve.
- When the grill is hot, place the burgers right over the coals and cook until they are golden and beginning to cook through, about 4 minutes. Turn, cook each burger until it is golden, about 2 minutes, then top each burger with two slices (or more, to your taste) of Camembert, cover the grill, and cook until the burgers are the doneness you like and the cheese is softened but not entirely melted, an additional 2 minutes for medium-rare. If you like your burger closer to medium, leave it on the grill for an additional 2 to 3 minutes (not too much longer or the meat will be dry).
- Transfer the burgers from the grill to a plate or platter and let them rest. Place the buns, cut side down, right over the coals until they are toasted, about 2 minutes. Remove them from the grill.
- To assemble the burgers, slather the cut sides of the buns with mayonnaise (if desired). Divide the apples among the bottom half of the buns. Top with the burgers, cheese side up. Garnish with the onions, and top with the other half of the bun. Press down firmly on the burger, which helps to keep the whole thing together. Serve immediately.