Years ago, when I was in the service, the big thing to do during off hours was to be on a bowling league. Since I grew up here in Bar Harbor, I was only used to the candle pin bowling with the little balls. I had never bowled with the big ones with the holes in them. But after awhile I found myself owning my own pair of bowling shoes and when I look back now, I wonder, ‘What was I thinking when I purchased them in light baby blue? Eventually I got my own bowling ball – I got my first 200 game with it.
Then there was the fun you would have with friends and teammates, and the competiveness against the other teams you bowled against.
A lot of people I knew really looked forward to those nights to be able to have some fun and some beers or cocktails while having some really great rowdy competition. That was all good and I never minded a cocktail or two. But what I really and truly looked forward to on bowling night was the patty melts they made on the grill at the bowling alley. Oh I craved those things – hamburgers with lots of cheese and grilled onions on bread and cooked like a grilled cheese; it was just heaven to me.
Then time went on and eventually I didn’t think about or have one for years – until recently. One day I just started thinking of them and decided to make one at home. I only had wheat bread, not the rye they are usually made on, but I went ahead and made one and it really brought back memories. Then last week while on vacation I was at a restaurant and they had patty melts on the menu. They were made with fresh ground round, caramelized onions, your choice of two slices of melted Swiss or American cheese (I prefer American cheese) and Thousand Island dressing on marbled rye bread.
Well, I ordered it and it was to die for so of course now I am on another patty melt kick. I rarely eat rye bread, but I am absolutely in love with it now with a patty melt. Then at the airport, not two days after I had that patty melt on vacation, I saw a Johnny Rockets hamburger restaurant and immediately went to check out the menu – lo and behold, they had patty melts and of course I had to order one and then make a mad dash for my plane because I wasn’t about to leave without trying that burger. It was great – rye bread, with grilled onions and mayo rather than dressing, but still good.
So now I’m obsessed – at least until I make the perfect patty melt or gain 5 pounds trying. But until my teenage son begs me to stop making burgers (which is one of the only three things he will eat), I am going to continue my quest for the juiciest patty with caramelized onions, melted cheese and a great dressing on marbled rye bread right in my own kitchen. I’m hoping to get it right pretty fast, but it really wouldn’t bother me too much to eat these for the next couple of weeks.
But now to decide what goes with these wonderful burgers, and I think a good beer cocktail will do the trick!
Fill a pint glass a little more the half way with your favorite pale ale, then top off with a ginger beer – the spicier the ginger beer the better!
2 slices Swiss or American cheese (or one of each)
1/4 pound ground beef
1/4 cup sliced onions
3 Tbsp. butter, divided
2 slices good marbled rye bread
Thousand Island Dressing
Sauté the onions until golden in 2 Tbsp. butter. Remove from the pan and form the meat patty to fit the bread and grill to your desired doneness.
Butter the bread on one side and place in hot skillet, buttered side down. Put one slice of cheese on the unbuttered side, followed by the onions then the cooked patty, followed by more cheese. (Note: Here I like to put a bit of dressing on too) then top with slice of bread, buttered side up.
Cook until bread is golden brown and crisp, then flip over and cook the other side until cheese is melted.
Fill a small bowl with dressing for extra dipping. Slice and enjoy!
Tex Mex Patty Melts
1 lb. ground beef
3 Tbsp. chili seasoning mix
2 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, minced
1/2 oz. beer (keep the rest for you)
1/2 cup mayonnaise
Another 1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, minced
6 slices white bread
6 slices pepper jack cheese
Mix together the ground beef, chili seasoning mix, 2 minced chipotle peppers and adobo sauce and beer in a bowl. Divide the mixture evenly into three patties.
Stir together the mayonnaise and 1 minced chipotle pepper with adobo sauce in a small bowl. Divide the mixture between the bread slices and spread evenly on bread. Place a slice of pepper jack cheese on each slice of the bread.
Heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Cook the patties to desired doneness. Remove each burger and place on a slice of bread and top them with remaining slices.
Drain skillet, reserving 2 Tbsp. grease and heat to medium high heat. Grill the sandwiches until golden brown on each side and cheese is completely melted.
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