Det Burgers

Here I am with some buddies outside the Del Rio, the bar where we worked in the mid seventies. Right now, it reminds me of a very peaceful uncomplicated time in my life. The Del Rio was famous for (among many things) – the Det Burger, the perfect recipe for these trying times.

A quarter pounder topped with canned vegetables and processed cheese, steamed in beer, it is surprisingly delicious! I have developed my own version here using fresh mushrooms, Mediterranean olives, green chiles and cheddar cheese. Needless to say, I kept the beer.

Makes 4 servings
Hands-on time: 25 minutes
Total preparation time: 25 minutes


1 medium onion
Eight 1 1/2-inch cremini mushrooms (about 4 ounces)
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
One 4-ounce can sliced, peeled green chiles, drained
1/3 cup pitted brine-cured olives such as kalamata
1 ½ pounds ground beef chuck or round
6 ounces Cheddar cheese, cut into 4 slices
1/3 cup beer
4 hamburger buns, split and toasted

Cut the onion crosswise into 1/3-inch thick slices. Slice the mushrooms (about 1 1/3 cups). Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large skillet over high heat until hot. Reduce the heat to medium; add the onion and cook, 7 minutes or until golden brown on both sides. Transfer the onion slices with a metal spatula to a plate.

Increase the heat to medium- high; add the a tablespoon of oil and the mushrooms to the skillet and cook, stirring, about 4 to 5 minutes or until the mushrooms have browned and the liquid they release has evaporated. Season the mushroom mixture with salt and pepper to taste and transfer it to a bowl. While the onion and mushrooms are cooking slice the olives. Add the chiles and olives to the mushroom mixture; set aside.

Gently shape the beef into four 4-inch hamburgers; season on both sides with salt and pepper. Heat the remaining tablespoon of oil in the skillet over high heat until hot. Reduce the heat to medium-high, add the burgers and cook 3 minutes. Turn the burgers over and cook 2 minutes. Top each with one slice of the onion, one quarter of the chile mixture and a slice of cheese. Add the beer to the skillet; cover and steam 2 minutes or until the cheese has melted.

Transfer the burgers to the toasted buns and serve.

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2 Responses to Det Burgers

  1. Tim Prentiss says:

    We went to the Del Rio for their wavy potato chips and sour cream dip (to go along with our beer, of course). But the dish wasn’t complete until the dip was thoroughly drenched in Ann Arbor’s own Clancy’s Fancy hot sauce. Then we’d need another beer…

  2. Sharon Lesch says:

    I lived in Ann Arbor from 1969 through 1977. I don’t think I ever ordered anything other than the Det Burger. Absolutely the best!
    I worked downtown so lunch was there, or The Old German.

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