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Dinner Rush! Beer-Braised Burgers

Imagine what happens when you combine your favorite tailgating beverage with America’s favorite sandwich.  Chardonnay Hoagies?  Yuck.  Cosmo Reubens?  Way off point.  But beer and burgers?  Now we’re talking.

This “knife & fork” style beer-braised burger does most of its cooking in a delicious sudsy bath of brew, which not only builds in a great depth of flavor, it also helps to create a killer pan sauce that you can pour over your finished masterpiece.  While it looks like 110% “so bad, but so good” man food, a few tricks can help lighten this dish. Opt for ground sirloin to cut out some excess fat from the meat and use a strongly flavored cheese (such as the recommended Stilton) to get the most flavor bang for your caloric buck. You can also use a lighter beer like a lager or ale (though I’d recommend something hearty like a porter or stout).

Now – if you’ve had enough time to shake the thought of what a train wreck Cosmo Reubens would be – game on!

Beer-Braised Burgers Recipe
Yield:  4 servings

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
1 large sweet onion, halved widthwise and thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 pound ground beef (whatever blend you prefer)
Salt and ground black pepper
1 (12-ounce) bottle beer, whatever variety you like
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
4 slices sourdough bread, toasted
1 large tomato, thinly sliced
2 to 3 ounces robust blue cheese, such as Roquefort or Stilton, thinly sliced

Place a large skillet over medium heat with the olive oil and butter.  Add the onions, garlic, and thyme to the pan and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions begin to soften, 3 to 4 minutes.

While the onions are cooking, season the ground beef with salt and pepper and form it into four patties.  Push the softened onions to the outer edge of the skillet and add the burgers to the pan.  Cook the burgers until browned on one side, 2 to 3 minutes, and then flip them over.  Add the beer, Worcestershire sauce, and Dijon mustard to the pan and swirl it gently to combine all of the ingredients.  Continue cooking the burgers to your desired doneness, about 4 minutes for medium.  Once the burgers are finished, remove them to a plate and continue reducing the liquid in the pan until it reaches a glossy, gravy-like consistency.  Season with salt and pepper.

Serve the burgers on a toasted slice of sourdough bread layered with sliced tomato.  Top each burger with the onions and pan sauce and garnish with the blue cheese.

NOTE:  If you’re feeling guilty for just eating a burger for dinner, go ahead and add in a simple green salad to balance the meal out. But next time, stop worrying about eating just a burger for dinner and go with it.

Patrick W. Decker’s life revolves around food. Always has, probably always will. As a graduate of The Culinary Institute of America and past member of the culinary teams for Food Network stars like Rachael Ray, Sandra Lee and Paula Deen, he now works as a food stylist and producer in NYC by day and a food writer and recipe developer at his home in New York’s Hudson Valley by night. You can see what he’s up to by following his latest tweets on Twitter at @patrickwdecker or visiting his website at patrickwdecker.com.

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