The Great Stuffed Burger Experiment

BY: MJ Byers

“Weebles wobble, but they don’t fall down.”  Hasbro

Swiss-on-blue, being prepped for tasting (photo by Tony Byers)

Dish:   Cheese-stuffed burgers

As much as I go on about burgers on this site, it may sound odd when I say that I don’t cook them all that often.  Health considerations and all.  The same reason I’ve never learned how to bake good cakes and other pastries.  Well, actually, I suck at baking cakes.  But I also (conveniently) decided it would be better if I never became good at it because…..oh my God…..what would happen to may waistline if ever I became a good pastry chef?  I’d become a Weeble, that’s what.

Plus I’m more of a savory than a sweet.  So on that basis, disregarding the whole potential Weeble thing, the mood struck to try to create a fabulous stuffed burger.  You know the one – cheese on the inside (and on top if you fancy, which Weebles-in-training like me do).   I don’t often find these in restaurants for reasons I don’t understand.  I did make them at home a while ago, with mediocre results.  That time I did them entirely by hand – take half your uncooked burger, dig a well into it with your finger, stuff some cheese in there, put the other half of the burger on top, form into a patty and cook.  The problem was the my cheese came oozing right out because I hadn’t really properly sealed the patty, which pressured me into cutting the cook time, which meant the cheese didn’t really melt properly.  Turned out ok, but far short of the conceptual promise.

I tried again, this time with a gadget called the Stuffed Burger Press ($14.95 from Williams-Sonoma…..ooooo how I love me some Williams-Sonoma……).  Here’s pretty much how it works, courtesy of the packaging sleeve:

“Just fill each side of the chamber with ground meat.  Then press with included plate.  This creates a patty with a hollow center that you can stuff with your favorite savory filling.  After adding your filling, just press together and grimp.  Use the lifter to remove your savory stuffed burger, ready to cook on the stovetop or grill.”

Stuffed Burger Press (

I know it really shouldn’t matter whether I do this by hand for with a device, but this little gadget really did the trick for me – nothing oozed out, and the burgers were…..well……pretty.

In addition to working with my new toy, I also tried the following little experiments:

  1. Beef only vs. beef/pork blend:  It occurred to me that I should try to add more complexity to my meat.  My first thought was to try to blend ground sirloin with rib or some other such thing.  But it turns out that my store doesn’t sell other beef cuts ground up (and I don’t have a meat grinder……yet).  So, I opted to go for ground pork and see how that worked.  And, definitely the beef/pork blend is better than just ground sirloin (or chuck or whatever your shop may sell) on its own – especially if you opt for the lower fat grades of beef.  The pork has a richness of flavor that beef just doesn’t offer (unless you’re using Kobe or grinding up a filet mignon, which I’m not because my last name isn’t Rockefeller), so the blend is really tasty as well as juicy (assuming you don’t overcook – more on that next time).
  2. Cheese:  The next question was “what cheese shall I use as stuffing”?  I considered a blue/ricotta blend, but it turns out they don’t work all that well together in this context.  So, I went for head-to-head, single variable comparison – all blue, all ricotta , all swiss.  With gruyere on top, because that’s my fave, and because I think blue on top of blue stuffing is a bit much (unless you just really, really love blue cheese).  Based on six data points (myself and Husband times three burger types), the winner by a long way was the blue cheese stuffing with the gruyere on top.  This way, you get the extra ooziness of the softer blue cheese inside, the greater firmness of the swiss on top, and the flavor combinations of the two cheeses.  The flavor and texture fusions were really interesting and super-yummy.  If you’re keeping score, the ricotta didn’t work at all – too oozy and not  a strong enough flavor to stand up to the meat.

Experiment samples – I call it scientific method, Husband calls it OCD (photo by Tony Byers)

So there you have it:  experiments and results.

Next time:  how exactly to make  the winning burger, i.e. weights, measures, cooking times, seasonings – the whole nine.

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