~ The Times They are a Changing: The Patty Melt!!! ~
Two Sunday nights ago, in a scene from this years episode two of Mad Men, Don Draper was having a one-on-one, heart-to-heart, father-to-daughter, break-through-the-ice conversation with his now teenage daughter Sally. Don was driving Sally back to Miss Porter's School and they stopped at a diner along the road to get a bite to eat. Sally excused herself, to use the ladies room. When she returned to her place at their table, she looked down and asked "what's this?" Daddy Draper replied, "I got you a patty melt." That's just one of the things I love about this show -- right down to the food, their portrayal of life in the '60's and '70's is spot on!
For those of you born yesterday, this is not a patty melt:
It's a pan-grilled grilled-cheese w/a burger-in-the-middle sandwich...
The medium-rare burgers and onions are placed between two slices of caraway-seeded rye bread that have several slices of Swiss cheese placed on them (cheddar cheese is for kids). It gets grilled in a skillet of pan juices (leftover from caramelizing the onions and pan-searing the patties) until golden and crispy on both sides. This is an adult sandwich. Respect it, admire it!
That diner scene evoked fond memories of patty melts gone by. My mouth began watering and I couldn't wait to make these. Over the past week, I've even been posting recipes using my rye bread. ~ Try My Rye: It's Homemade in the Bread Machine ~ is one of them. I found myself wishing I had a few slices left in my refrigerator. I don't, but that is not going to stop me. Store-bought will due just fine. Click on the Related Article link below to get my bread recipe!
I'm not saying I don't enjoy a well-made cheeseburger. I do. I adore them. I am saying a classic patty melt, made with firm-textured, caraway-seeded light-rye is a thing of beauty. The crispy, butttery rye exterior is something a soft, squishy hamburger roll can't compete with. The patty melt is a step up from an ordinary cheeseburger -- or should I say: a cheeseburger is a step down from this elegant sandwich!
This recipe makes 4, large patty melts. Cut it in half to make 2!
1 stick salted butter, into
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 pounds (after peeling) 1/4" thick "half-ring-shaped" slices of yellow or sweet onions (8 cups)
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon coarsely-ground black pepper.
Note: This may seem like a lot of onions, but it is not. Similar to the mushroom, as an onion cooks and caramelizes, it loses almost all of it's volume. So, be sure to always start out with about twice as many as you think you will need!
~ Step 2. Increase heat to medium-high, and continue to cook, stirring occasionally at the beginning, frequently in the middle, and, constantly at the end, until the onions are golden brown, about 45 minutes. Deglaze pan with:
1/4 cup white wine
~ Step 3. Turn the heat off. Using a slotted spoon or spatula, transfer the onions to a paper towel lined plate. With each scoop of onions, take time to allow the buttery liquids to drain back down into the pan.
~ Step 4. In same pan, adjust heat to medium-high and add:
4 8-ounce, 1/2" thick hamburger patties, your favorite meat mix
Turn the heat off. Transfer burgers to a plate and lightly season with:
freshly ground sea salt and peppercorn blend
Note: It's time to assemble the sandwiches, but, don't wipe or clean the skillet!
On each of four bread slices, in the following order, place: 3 slices Swiss cheese, one hamburger patty that has been cut in half, and, 1/4 of the sauteed onions. Take a moment to push a few onions down in between the hamburger halves. This is why I cut the burgers in half. Top each with three more slices of Swiss cheese, a slice of rye bread and a generous slather of butter.
4 tablespoons salted butter
into the drippings (from cooking the onions and patties) in the pan.
Increase heat to medium-high, add sandwiches, buttered sides up, and cook until cheese is melted and they are golden on both sides, turning only once. This will take about 4 minutes on the first side, and 3 minutes on the second side. Remove sandwiches from pan and serve immediately.
Classically, the patty melt is served with dill pickles, and, French fries with ketchup for dipping both the sandwiches and the fries into:
Special Equipment List: cutting board; chef's knife; 14" skillet; slotted spoon; spatula
Cook's Note: ~ To Sweeten Your Life: Caramelize Some Onions ~. As all onion lovers know, this is an understatement. We also know there is a right and a wrong way to caramelize onions properly. It's not hard. In fact, it's easy, but, it takes an understanding of onions + time and patience to do it correctly. Click into Categories 4, 8, 15 or 20 to learn, in detail, how I do it!
"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti
(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2014)