Weeknight Meal: Cheeseburgers and Crispy Oven Fries

Yes, you can make mouth-watering burgers at home for a weeknight meal!  After a busy and crazy day there are times when I just crave a good burger to end the day and transition out of work.  We made burgers this weekend and was reminded how easy it was to pull off at home.  In fact, you can have lip-smacking hamburgers plus crispy oven-roasted fries within 30 minutes of putting the fries in the oven.  The burgers taste so much better because they are homemade with love and use fresh ingredients.   I like burgers cooked to medium that have flavorful meat, with some seasoning you can taste on the outside.   For the texture, I love a bit of a crunch on the outside and tender meat on the inside that isn’t too chewy.  The sharp cheddar cheese that melts down the sides of the burger makes it irresistible.  With the exception of the buns, I usually have all the ingredients in my pantry or freezer.  Give it a shot, here’s how.

The burger is the centerpiece of the creation and I found the grade of meat you use matters in terms of flavor, juiciness and texture.  For these burgers I used Angus Ground Chuck with 20% fat content.  We usually buy organic ground meat with 5 to 10% fat content, so the 20% fat was a stretch for me.  The grill masters have always recommended meat with higher fat content and now I see why.  There was a huge flavor and texture difference compared to the ground meat I usually buy.  I am somewhat of a seasoning purist and only use kosher salt, fresh cracked pepper, onion powder and garlic powder to season the meat, with a citrus pepper dusting on top of the burger.  It’s up to you – there are so many different ways to season a burger and you can make awesome ones at home.

I think I have mentioned several times (thanks for letting me repeat myself) that I swoon for anything fried.  French fries are one of my favorites.  You have probably seen countless recipes for fries roasted in the oven; I think oven-roasting is one of the best cooking techniques for vegetables – it makes you look like a pro with very little effort.   Roasting gives the potatoes a golden crispy crust with a soft and fluffy inside.  The prep work takes about 5 minutes, and while they are cooking you can get the burgers and garnishes going.

So far we have talked about the meat for the hamburger and oven-roasting the fries, but what about the supporting cast of the bun and condiments?  My favorite grocery store buns are premium sesame seed buns.  If I’m near a bakery, I’ll pick up some artisan rolls but I wanted to stick with more accessible items for this post.  I went all out for this photo shoot and lightly buttered the buns before I grilled them – fantastic!  That detail really pulled it all together for me.  The condiments, or all the good stuff around the burger, are what gives you those layers of flavors.  I love sharp cheddar cheese, but choose your favorite.  As a time saver, I buy the cheese pre-grated but slices are better to use for burgers.  I am a huge mayonnaise fan (Hellman’s!) and have to have it on my burger along with red onion slices, tomato, sliced pickles and butter lettuce.  David goes for a bacon cheeseburger with mustard, mayo, lettuce, onions and pickles.

What is your favorite burger?  I would love to hear what burger combination makes your mouth water!  Hopefully you are inspired to re-create this classic at home more often, with ease and very little planning.

Cheeseburgers with Crispy Oven-Fries        
Recipe: Melissa Schenker/Foodie for Two
Serves two foodies
Prep: 12 minutes         Cooking Time: 30 minutes total

Ingredients:
Oven-Fries
2 medium russet potatoes, skins on and washed well
1 tablespoon olive oil
¼ teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
Cheeseburgers:
¾ to 1 pound of ground beef (chuck or sirloin: 20%
   to 30% fat content)
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon fresh cracked pepper
1/8 teaspoon onion powder
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
1/8 teaspoon citrus pepper for top (or favorite seasoning salt)
2 slices sharp cheddar cheese
Condiments:
Mayonnaise
Yellow mustard
4 slices red onion
4 slices tomato
6 to 8 slices dill pickles
2 whole pieces butter lettuce (or romaine or iceberg)
Salt and Pepper to taste

Directions:
Oven-Fries
Heat oven to 375 degrees F (convection if available) and line a sheet pan with parchment paper.  Cut potatoes in thirds width-wise and then into wedges or strips – try to make all similar in size for even cooking.  Place on sheet pan and drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper.  Toss potato pieces with your hands and level out to a single layer.  Place in middle rack of oven and cook for 15 minutes.  Turn fries over with a spatula and cook for another 10 to 15 minutes until golden brown.  If needed, season with more salt.

Serve immediately with cheeseburgers.

Cheeseburgers  (heat grill 15 to 20 minutes before fries are done, start cooking burgers when fries have 10 minutes cooking time left):
Heat grill to medium high.  Melt one tablespoon butter in ramekin in microwave (three to four 10 second intervals) and grab a pastry brush – for the buns.

In a medium glass bowl, add ground meat, salt, pepper, onion powder and garlic powder.  Gently mix with hands until the seasonings are incorporated into meat; one trick to tender burgers is to handle the meat as little as possible.

Form two, one-half inch thick burgers and season top with citrus pepper or seasoning salt.  Place on hot grill and lightly smash down burger.  For a medium burger, cook for 4 minutes and turn over; lightly smash burger down again with spatula and cook for another 4 minutes (for well done burgers, cook on second side for 6 minutes).   A few minutes before the burgers are done cooking, toast the buns: brush the top and insides of the buns with butter and grill about one minute each side.  Place a cheese slice on each burger and transfer burgers to top rack of grill while buns finish toasting. 

Dress buns with mayonnaise or mustard; build burger on bottom bun starting with lettuce, cheeseburger, pinch of salt and pepper, onions, tomatoes, pickles and top bun.   Enjoy!

  • Can substitute sweet potatoes for russet potatoes

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2 responses to “Weeknight Meal: Cheeseburgers and Crispy Oven Fries

  1. Yum – you’re making my mouth water! Love this post!

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