Can you feel the heat? It is time to fire up that grill for some serious summer burgers! The art of a perfect hamburger is up for much debate. Whether your secret hides in the bun, in the seasoning of the beef, in the temperature of your grill or in your special sauce; everyone has their own “best” burger recipe. Whatever you do – do not get caught up in the juice dripping through your grate and forget about the importance of choosing the right cheese. Some cheeses just melt better than others, which will make your backyard grill showdown the perfect place to showcase these stunning ozzers.
#1 Beginner Melter: Port-Salut
For a party-friendly, memorable melter use the easy-to-find Port-Salut. Port- Salut has such a mild and creamy flavor you can sneak it on your kid’s burgers while still feeling like a gourmet chef. This luscious melter’s washed-rind throws it in the category of the Trappist monk style, however it never gets funky like most washed-rinds, making it excellent for beginners. The tang and acidity of Port-Salut’s paste will perfectly sink deep into the crevices of your already smoking summer burgers. Keep this one simple with your traditional burger accompaniments, but if you are feeling a little frisky, then add thinly sliced grilled apple for a crunchy contrast. For a great beer pairing open a sweet Chimay White (also made by Trappist monks) to sinfully wash down your burger.
#2 Intermediate Melter: Ossau-Iraty
For an ossau-erotic cheese try this French sheep’s milk! A magnificent melter, Ossau-Iraty smells of toasted hazelnuts with a sweet, yeasty and milky flavor. Eating Ossau-Iraty reminds me of biting into a buttered and toasted sourdough bun. Heated, this cheese bridges stretchy strings of melted treats between everything it touches. To make an especially impressive burger with Ossau-Iraty, add a smear of cherry mostarda to a slightly charred bun. That’s right, I said put cherries on your burger and I have included a recipe below to make sure you give it a try. The salty meat, sharp cheese, smokey bread, tangy mustard and sweet cherries will rock your taste buds! Choose a malty nut brown ale to go with this burger. I highly recommend Downtown Brown by Lost Coast Brewery.
#3 Advanced Melter: Stilton
Blue cheese is not for everyone, and Stilton – well, this cheese is an acquired taste. It takes a strong, sophisticated (or maybe just really hungry) mouth to enjoy the aggressive spiciness this English cheese dishes out. That only makes me love it more. If you want to beef up your summer burgers make them black and blue with this classic melter and watch the Stilton turn into puddles of sharp, nutty cream on your hamburgers. To really make things interesting, reduce one cup of port on the stovetop for every two pounds of beef you plan on using and mix it into your patties before you throw them on the grill. The old world combination of Stilton and Port will meet the classic American grilled burger in a shower of fireworks on your tongue. To douse the flames, chug a barleywine like Anchor Steam’s Old Foghorn. This style of beer is almost like Port with bubbles. Now that should keep the neighbors talking!
Cherry Mostarda Recipe
By Kira Jefferson
- 3&1/2 Cups Sugar
- 3/4 Bottle Of Red Wine (Preferably Zinfandel)
- 1/4 Cup Black Pepper
- 2 Quarts Pitted Red Cherries
- 1&1/2 Cups Stone Ground Mustard
- Combine sugar, wine, mustard and pepper in a saucepan
- When mixture comes to a boil, lower heat and add cherries
- Simmer, stirring occasionally until cherries are soft and breaking apart
- Cool to room temp and spread on your bun before serving