I went for afternoon cocktails with my friend Brad yesterday, fully intending to have a few martinis and then move on to one of Chicago’s many fine restaurants for dinner. Brad had just returned from a long weekend in Minneapolis with his family, where they had traveled the city eating a variety of hamburgers stuffed with cheese. This concept is apparently run-of-the-mill in Minneapolis, where everything is magical and stuffed with cheese. Realizing that what my life had been missing was almost certainly this very stuffed burger experience, I talked Brad into skipping the pricey restaurant and hitting a few great neighborhood shops to create our own signature Juicy Lucy’s on my patio grill.
We walked down to the Butcher and Larder, where we found local, grass-fed beef that had been ground within the hour. We then made our way to the Green Grocer, where we found Brunkow Cheese’s Cold Pack Raw Cheddar, Michigan Ramps, and Pretzel Buns made here in Chicago at the Red Hen Bakery. We also bought a bottle of Death’s Door Vodka and a few grapefruits and blood oranges to make a few more cocktails to sip while we chopped and grilled.
We oiled and grilled the ramps and then finely chopped the stems to mix with the creamy cheddar. We stuffed the burgers with this mixture and grilled them, watching bits of the cheddar sauce ooze out and caramelize around the edges of the meat. We also roasted red peppers and onions, and used them to top the burgers along with the grilled ramp leaves.
The burgers were so rich we had to stop and take a breather about halfway through dinner. But at the end of the meal I realized, as I always do, that cooking at home is infinitely more rewarding than any dinner out. Plus, you get to drink extra cocktails!