The New York Times Magazine wrote, “As great dinner sandwiches go, it is hard to beat the patty melt.” It appeared again, this time as the subject of a loving essay in GQ, where it was called “another, often more delicious option” than the hallowed hamburger. Serious Eats then wrote up a deep dive on each splendid part of the sandwich.
With so much love, you’d think the patty melt — a burger that’s not really a burger (but siphons the best parts of its DNA) — would’ve gained more traction in the greasy spoon establishments serving other terrible-for-your-body foods that help us get through the banality of everyday life. Alas, it has not — but Eric Greenspan and his new cookbook, The Great Grilled Cheese Book, aim to further the cause.
Greenspan is a graduate of Le Cordon Bleu in Paris. Throughout his career, he trained under worshipped chefs like Alain Ducasse, David Bouley and Joachim Splichal. He later earned the title of “The Champ” of grilled cheeses (a title bestowed upon him after winning the Grilled Cheese Invitational, which, sadly, no longer exists). He and his grilled cheeses have been featured on The Food Network, CBS Morning News, and through the pages of the LA Times, the New York Times and elsewhere. In his new book, available August 7th, he dives into a great many varieties — few as simple and simply wonderful as the patty melt. Here’s his recipe.
Makes 4 Sandwiches
12 ounces sharp Cheddar cheese, cut into 8 equal slices
8 slices of rye bread
1 ½ pounds ground beef (80 percent lean)
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
¼ cup canola oil
1 Asian pear, peeled and coarsely chopped
1 kiwi, peeled and coarsely chopped
8 cloves garlic, peeled
1 (1-inch) piece fresh ginger, peeled and sliced
¼ cup toasted sesame oil
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 white onions, thinly sliced
The Great Grilled Cheese Book is Eric Greenspan’s survey and subsequent step-by-step guide to the wide world of grilled cheeses. It spans 142 pages, eight separate cheese types and more grilled cheese recipes than any right-thinking person should need. It’s available August 7th. Buy Now: $17
1. To make the patties, in a bowl, combine the beef, salt, and pepper and mix well. Divide the meat into 4 equal portions and shape each portion into a patty.
2. In a large skillet, warm the oil over high heat. Add the patties and sear, turning once, for about 3 minutes on each side, until lightly charred on both sides. The patties should be rare. Transfer to a plate and let rest.
3. To make the onions, return the skillet to medium heat and melt the butter. Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 15 minutes, until they begin to caramelize in the butter and remaining beef fat. Turn down the heat to low and cook slowly, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes, until translucent and richly caramelized. Remove from the heat.
4. Line up half of the bread slices on a work surface. Top each slice with 1 cheese slice, a seared patty, one-fourth of the onions, and a second slice of cheese. Close the sandwiches with the remaining bread slices.
5. Line a large platter with paper towels. In a skillet over high heat, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter. Turn down the heat to low, add 1 sandwich, and cook, turning once, for 2 to 3 minutes on each side, until browned and crisp on both sides and the cheese is melted. Transfer to the prepared platter to blot the excess grease. Repeat with the remaining butter and sandwiches.
6. Cut the sandwiches in half, plate, and serve.
Reprinted with permission from Great Grilled Cheese: Grown-Up Recipes for a Childhood Classic by Eric Greenspan, copyright © 2018. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House.