Lola Burgers

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This is the best burger I’ve ever made. It is the 2nd best burger I’ve ever eaten, second only to a heavenly one from Holstein’s in Las Vegas (a dry aged beef sirloin burger with smoked bacon, aged goat cheddar, tomato confit, baby arugula & garlic-chive aioli). Even then it is a very, very close second. First of all, you have soft and chewy pretzel buns toasted in butter. It doesn’t get much better than that. Second, a delicious and juicy burger grilled to perfection with smoked cheddar melted on top. Next, crispy bacon nestles on top of the melted cheese. After that, quick-pickled red onions that are a perfect choice to cut some of the richness and also add a bright and tangy note to this deliciously mouthwatering burger. We are not done yet, an over-medium egg is placed on top of this tower of glory and when you press the top bun down to be able to get this cheeseburger in your mouth, the yolk pops and golden richness drizzles down the burger onto your chin. When David and I sat down on our new patio to eat these, we took a big (messy) bite, looked at each other and just laughed. They are that good.

adapted from: Michael Symon
serves: 4

8 thick-cut slices of smoky bacon (1/2 pound)
1 1/2 pounds mixed ground sirloin and chuck
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
4 slices of smoked cheddar cheese (2 ounces)
4 large eggs
4 pretzel buns or English muffins split,spread with a thin layer of butter and toasted in a dry skillet or browned in bacon fat
pickled red onions, recipe follows
ketchup and mustard, for serving (we used mustard, but don’t love ketchup. It’s up to you!)

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pickled red onions
adapted from: Food + Wine

1 cup of thinly sliced red onion
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons mustard seeds
1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds
1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns

For the pickled red onions

In a medium saucepan of boiling salted water, cook sliced red onions until just tender, about 4 minutes. Drain the onions and transfer them to a glass bowl.

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Meanwhile, in another medium saucepan, bring the water and vinegar to a boil with the sugar, mustard seeds, coriander seeds and peppercorns. Boil until the sugar is dissolved, about 2 minutes.

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Pour the liquid over the onions and refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to 2 days. Drain before serving.

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For the burgers

In a large nonstick skillet, cook the bacon over moderate heat until crisp. Drain on paper towels. Pour off all but 1 tablespoon of the bacon fat in the skillet. Alternatively bake the bacon on a baking sheet at 350 until uniformly crisp, reserving 1 tablespoon of the bacon fat.

Preheat a grill pan or grill.  Shape the meat into four patties of your desired size (we made smaller patties because our pretzel buns were small)  and season generously with salt and pepper. Grill over moderately high to high heat until lightly charred, 2-3 minutes. Flip the burgers and top with the smoked cheddar. Cook for about 1 1/2 – 3 minutes longer or until cheese is bubbly. * Grilling times vary depending on the size and thickness of the burger. You really want medium rare to medium for a burger for maximum flavor.

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Meanwhile, in the reserved bacon fat in the skillet, fry the eggs over-medium over moderate heat, about 3 minutes. The whites should be set but the yolk still runny. I fried four together in a small skillet, then cut them into fourths when they were done.

Set the burgers on the bottoms of the toasted pretzel buns and top with bacon,  pickled onions, and fried eggs. Serve with ketchup and mustard.

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