Ultimate Burgers

Any burger can be great if you use quality beef and nail the grilling, but the ultimate burger needs a little help from some additional ingredients. Of course, I know calling this burger “Ultimate” is a bit risky. It could be especially problematic if I come up with some future creation that I think is even better! For now, though, I stand by my claim. I hope you agree.

By Russ Faulk, Kalamazoo Outdoor Gourmet
Serves 4
Image of Ultimate Burgers

  • 1 batch Rosemary Aioli
  • 3 pounds 85% lean ground beef (I used chuck)
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Fine sea salt
  • 6 soft hamburger buns
  • 1 red onion
  • 6 ounces blue brie, sliced (I use Cambozola triple-cream cheese) (freeze for 45 minutes for easier slicing)
  • 6 thick slices bacon, cooked and broken into 12 equal pieces
  • 6 large slices ripe tomato
  • 6 leaves butter lettuce

We start with 85% lean ground beef, and we top it with bacon, blue brie, grilled onions and rosemary aioli. The way the blue brie melts is absolutely luscious, and the rosemary blends perfectly with the slightly savory nature of the cheese. The whole package is amazing.

Prepare the Rosemary Aioli immediately before starting the burgers.

Divide the beef into 6 parts, 8 ounces each. Form them first into smooth balls and then into patties. Recess the patties in the middle so that they are thicker at the perimeter (this helps them cook more evenly and keeps them more flat as they start to swell on the grill – a trick from Bobby Flay that I have totally adopted). Brush the patties lightly on both sides with olive oil and season liberally with salt. Allow them to rest as you start the grill.

Prepare the grill for direct grilling with 2 temperature zones: 1 very hot (about 700ºF) and one medium-hot (about 400ºF). A charcoal fire is preferred.

While the grill is heating, split the buns and lightly brush the insides with olive oil. Season lightly with salt.

Slice the red onion into 2 thick slices, discarding the ends. Insert 1 bamboo skewer through the side of each slice to hold all the rings together. Brush the slices with olive oil and season liberally with salt.

We want to sear the burgers on each side over the hotter fire and then finish them in the cooler zone. The onions can cook the entire time in the hotter zone. Here are the details…

Place the onions and burgers in the hotter zone of the fire. Turn the burgers after about 2 minutes. (If they are ready to release from the cooking surface. If not, leave them go a little longer). Cook the second side in the hotter zone for another 2 minutes, then flip again, transferring to the cooler zone. Turn the onions at this time, leaving them in the hotter zone. After the burgers have cooked in the cooler zone for about 3 minutes, turn them again. Top with slices of cheese and continue cooking until done, about 2 minutes more.

Add the bacon to the tops of the burgers to reheat (if not already hot) Separate the onions into rings and top each burger with 1 or 2 rings. Remove the burgers from the grill and reserve, covered loosely with foil while you grill the buns.

Quickly grill the insides of the buns over the cooler zone of the fire. If it is too slow, you can try the hot zone, but be careful not to burn them.

Spread a little Rosemary Aioli on each bottom bun. Place the burgers (with cheese, bacon and onion) on the buns. Cover with the tops and serve with tomato slices and lettuce.