I was not a hamburger kinda kid. The exception was a burger from “The Stuffed Shirt” in my hometown of South Orange, NJ. As a kid, Monday evenings were my family’s “late night.” After hours of Mr. Tamal’s rigorous ballet class at The NJ School of Ballet, we would head straight there for dinner. On Mondays it was just my mom, my brother, and me. We’d cozy into a booth, the three of us, and bite into the juiciest of burgers. My mother’s favorite was a cheeseburger dripping in Swiss, caramelized onions and mushrooms.
I’d watch in fascination as my usually elegant mother closed her eyes in pleasure, her lipstick quickly disappearing along with her dinner, as she wolfed down that burger. But she always stopped at half. She’d pat her mouth with her cloth napkin, reapply her Laura Mercier “Peony” pink lipstick and sit back as if she’d just woken from a spell. Her ability to enjoy decadent food while pressing the stop button is a gift I’m afraid I was born without.
As we start to entertain again in these warm summer months and Covid-19 forces us to do our best to host outdoors, I am reminded of that burger and my mother’s glazed euphoria.
This is my zhushed up version of that burger. “The Stuffed Shirt’s” thick button mushrooms have been replaced by a sexier, earthier flavor of truffle. My “Bee’s Knees Vidalia Onions” are transformed into a condiment here rather than a side dish, while the fig jam and arugula play off of one another in a bittersweet tango on the tongue. Bookend your burger with a Pretzilla that takes this dinner from pretentious to playful.
Are you participating in the #GoBeeGo challenge? Whether you are or not, let’s all try to channel our inner Ina, my refined and disciplined Southern mama, and reapply your “Peony” pink lipstick at the halfway mark.
Find all the tools you need to make your very own perfect “Star Spangled BEEger” below!
- Grill Spatula
- 4 Choice cut 8oz. hamburger patties (the ones I get are from LaRocca’s Country Market in Stamford, Connecticut and are a mix of chuck, ground round, and a little bit of steak). You can call your local butcher and ask for this high maintenance blend!
- Lawry’s Seasoned Salt linked below.
- Sabatino Tartufi Truffle Zest Seasoning linked below.
- If you’re making truffle cheeseburgers, Moliterno Al Tartufo is the cheese that Jule loves to use. Having trouble finding Moliterno Al Tartufo? Don’t freak out! Jule's favorite local cheese shop, Plum Plums, in Pound Ridge, NY will ship to you. Alternatively, Swiss cheese paired with Sabatino Tartufi Truffle Zest Seasoning is a great Option Bee 😉
- Pretzilla Burger Buns linked below.
- Thinly Sliced Tomato
- Dalmatia Original Fig Spread linked below.
- Fire up your grill to 450-500°.
- Bring hamburger patties to room temperature approximately 15 minutes before grilling.
- Season burgers with Lawry’s Seasoned Salt on each side. This makes for the juiciest of burgers. Note: a little goes a long way.
- If you can’t find Jule’s favorite truffle cheese or a cheeseburger isn’t your jam, now is the time to season with Sabatino Tartufi Truffle Zest Seasoning. Note: again, a little goes a long way.
- If you’re a cheese whore like Jule, and you’ve tracked down the Moliterno Al Tartufo, slice thinly and set aside.
- Grill your burgers approximately 4-5 minutes on each side for medium rare.
- Add cheese for the last 3 minutes of grilling, closing the lid of your grill until the cheese has melted.
- Slice Pretzilla buns in half and toast lightly on the grill.
- Remove burgers from the grill and allow them to rest on a platter for 5 minutes before serving.
- Trust me on the following: Layer your “Star Spangled BEEger” with my favorite sweet yet sophisticated fig jam. Pile some arugula high for a crisp bitter bite that offsets the sticky sweetness of the jam. Add a slice of the freshest heirloom tomato you can find as a nod to summer, and while Jule usually serves her “Bee’s Knees Vidalia Onions” as a side dish, in this case, she encourages you to open your tin foil packet and spoon the buttery caramelized gem on top of this masterpiece before crowning it with the top of the bun. Meet your burger’s new best friend.
- Watch as your guests' taste buds explode and everyone grows quiet.
Click the image below to take you directly to the “Bee’s Knees Vidalia Onions” ReciBEE!
All illustrations by @courtneycoloring.