Cheeseburgers Steamed in Beer

photo by Jessica Leibowitz

 My first official cooking job was in the mid 70’s at a bar in Ann Arbor Michigan (where I went to college) called the Del Rio. The most famous item on the menu, invented by a bored cook one slow day, was a burger called the “Det Burger,” a quarter pounder topped with canned vegetables and processed cheese, steamed in beer. It was 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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