Whenever I make a patty melt, I think of Mandy Patinkin (one of my favorite actors) and a scene from his television show Dead Like Me, in which he lays down the culinary law for putting one together.
If you're curious (or would simply like 2 minutes and 21 seconds of entertainment), watch the YouTube clip below. In the scene, Mandy plays a short order cook at one of the show's standard settings: Der Waffle House.
The traditional version is made with juicy ground beef, but you can certainly mix it up with ground turkey or chicken. The only drawback to making these instead of burgers is an extra step or two in the process, which is why I make them extra-large—eight big ounces per patty melt. No, I do not eat the whole eight-ounce sandwich myself, and that's the point.
Cut this mondo patty melt in half, and you’ve got dinner for two—a four-ounce serving each. Cook two of these big boys, and you’ve got dinner for four.
Less sandwiches = less work.
And less work always helps me eat with joy...
|Cleo Coyle, patty melt |
maven, is author of
The Coffeehouse Mysteries
The 5-Napkin Burger is a real-life eatery here in New York City, which is what inspired my 8-Napkin Patty Melt. Why eight napkins? One napkin for every ounce of meat, of course. :)
My readers might remember this sandwich from a scene in my latest Coffeehouse Mystery, Holiday Buzz.
Coffee hunter Matteo Allegro, weary of the healthy but tasteless appetizers served at a string of Manhattan holiday parties, ventures into the December night to bring back a more satisfying snack—this 8-napkin patty melt.
Of course, a patty melt this large is made for sharing, and Matt entices his partner in the coffee business, Clare Cosi, to share it with him while she shares the facts (and a cogent theory) behind the murder of a part-time employee.
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perfect patty melt…
* Be patient with grilling the onions. Cook them long enough to caramelize and you’ll have a much tastier sandwich.
* Use large slices of bread and shape the patty long in order to fit the bread.
* Don’t make the patty or bread slices too thick, about an inch.
* Once your ingredients are ready (the onions caramelized; the burger cooked), build the entire sandwich on a spatula. This will allow you as much time as you need to fix the ingredients just right. Then you can move the spatula to the hot pan, and slip the entire sandwich into the bubbling butter in one quick move.
* To prevent your grilled onions from falling out of the sandwich, follow the "building" instructions in the recipe (you'll see it below). The trick is with the placement of the cheese.
* Use the spatula to push down on the sandwich during cooking; a simple way to make a delicious “pressed sandwich” without a sandwich press.
Cleo Coyle's 8-Napkin
Patty Melt Recipe
Makes two 8-ounce Patty Melts (for four servings)
1 large yellow onion
vegetable oil and butter
4 large slices of bread (see my note below*)
16 ounces (1 pound) ground beef
8 slices of Swiss or cheddar cheese
Kosher or sea salt
*A note on the bread: A patty melt this big requires large (but not overly thick) slices of bread. Fresh crusty Italian or rye bread from a rustic loaf will make a truly amazing patty melt. If using pre-packaged bread, go for the super-sized sandwich-style and not the standard slices.
Step 1: Cook the onion – Peel and chop the large yellow onion. Place a pan over low heat, melt a bit of butter, add a splash of oil, and stir in the onions. Slowly cook the onions, stirring often, until they are caramelized (soft, sweet, and dark golden brown), about fifteen minutes. Set the cooked onions aside.
Step 2: Form and cook the patty - The shape of the ground meat patties should fit the bread that you're using, so shape the meat accordingly. Each patty should be 8-ounces in weight and about 1-inch in thickness (or a little less). Cook the patties over medium-high heat, three to four minutes per side. For best results, try to flip the patties only once. When the patties are cooked through, set aside.
Step 3: Build your sandwich – Start by buttering two slices of the bread...
- Place one slice on a spatula, buttered side down.
- Lay two thin slices of cheese on the bread.
- Place the cooked ground meat patty onto the cheese.
- Place a third slice of cheese over the patty.
- Add half the caramelized onions.
- A final slice of cheese should cover the onions (when it melts this last slice will help to hold the savory sweet onions inside the sandwich).
- Finally, top the patty melt with a slice of buttered bread, but this time you want the buttered side up.
Step 4: Grill and press – Heat a skillet and add a bit of butter. When the butter begins to bubble, use your spatula to transfer the fully-built sandwich to the hot pan. From this point on, treat the patty melt as if it were a grilled cheese sandwich...
Toast one side for three to four minutes and then flip. After flipping, press down hard on the sandwich with your spatula. Pressing the patty melt as it cooks will help the parts of the sandwich fuse together. Grill for three or four more minutes, until the cheese is completely melted. (Make the 2nd sandwich exactly the same way.)
Serve hot! A dill pickle is a thing of beauty with a patty melt. The bright tartness of the pickle (not to mention the happy, green color) nicely complements the rich unctuousness of the sandwich. Cole slaw, French fries, or potato chips are tasty sides, too. However you serve it, I certainly hope you will...
New York Times bestselling author of
The Coffeehouse Mysteries
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