Juicy Lucy – Minnesota

The origins of the first Juicy Lucy — a cheese-stuffed burger — are a bit murky. Our theory is that a Jonas, Sven or Nils from days of yore craved a tasty morsel to ward off the ten or so months of winter in the Land of 10,000 Lakes. Sounds good, right?

Juicy Lucy

Two venerable Minneapolis institutions each claim to have invented the carnivorous concoction and each claim to make the best Juicy Lucy. Twin Cities dwellers fall into two camps: pro Matt’s and pro 5-8 Club and the rivalry is similar to the cheesesteak battle between Geno’s and Pat’s on the south side of Philly. Matt’s claims the intentionally misspelled Jucy Lucy was created shortly after they opened in 1954 by customer request. Their tagline? “Remember, if it’s spelled correctly, you just might be eating a shameless ripoff.” The 5-8 Club also claims to have originated the recipe in the 1950s, and while this former speakeasy seems to get its fair share of TV exposure, their big selling point is more cheese options other than the standard American.

The keys to making a Juicy Lucy at home? First start with seasoned meat balls made with ground chuck. Leaner beef doesn’t work as well; the higher fat content of the ground chuck helps keep the burger from falling apart.

Juicy Lucy - how to make

 

The patty halves must be very thin and even, a quarter inch thick or less is ideal. Just press with the bottom of a heavy skillet.

Juicy Lucy - how to make

Second, after the cheese and the other burger patty are placed on top . . .

Juicy Lucy - how to make

. . .  pinch the edges closed and then flip the burger over and do the same on the other side.

Juicy Lucy - how to make

Then press the sides of the burger.

Juicy Lucy - how to make

This will help prevent the cheese from oozing out of the sides during cooking, which is a big Juicy Lucy fail.

So Matt’s or 5-8 Club? We’re just gonna play Minnesota nice and not take sides, there’s more than enough burger-love to go around. If you happen to find yourself in Minneapolis, do a taste-test between the two.

Juicy Lucy

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 lb ground chuck
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 3 ounces sliced cheese (American, Cheddar, Swiss, or Pepperjack)
  • Salt and pepper for seasoning  outside
  • Vegetable oil
  • 4 soft burger buns
  • Sliced tomato and lettuce (optional)
  • Sauteed sliced onions and peppers (optional)

Instructions

Combine beef with salt, pepper, garlic powder and Worcestershire sauce. Divide into 8 equal balls. Take plastic wrap and place onto the first ball. Press the bottom of a skillet against the plastic wrap until the beef is completely and evenly flattened, about ¼ of an inch thick. Remove the plastic wrap and set burger aside. Repeat with the remaining beef balls.

Divide cheese into four equal portions. Place in the middle of four of the burger patty halves. Place the remaining burgers on top of the cheese. Pinch the seams closed. Flip the patty and pinch the seams again. Press the sides of the burger with your hands. This will prevent the cheese from oozing out. Repeat with the remaining burgers. Season again with salt and pepper. Place one or two burgers on a heated, well-oiled skillet. Cook for about 3 to 4 minutes on each side for a medium burger. Repeat with remaining burgers. Place on toasted buns. Top with tomato and lettuce or sautéed onions and peppers.

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