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Cheesy center

The arms race among fast food joints, our most prolific hamburger suppliers, has been almost exclusively fought atop burgers. Salvos of sliced cheese are draped on patties. Reinforcements of bacon are laid across the beef. Spiced mayonnaises are ...

A better burger

The arms race among fast food joints, our most prolific hamburger suppliers, has been almost exclusively fought atop burgers.

Salvos of sliced cheese are draped on patties. Reinforcements of bacon are laid across the beef. Spiced mayonnaises are spread. Produce is generally ignored.

But these are merely conventional upgrades. The battle will turn nuclear if and when it moves from the patties' tops to their centers.

Minneapolis burger slingers have known this for decades. The Juicy Lucy - sometimes spelled without the "i" - may be the Twin Cities' best- known gastronomical invention.

As legend goes, the cheese-filled burger was first made at Matt's Bar in Minneapolis about 50 years ago when a regular asked the cook to plop some cheese between two patties. Scott Nelson, owner of Matt's Bar, says they now serve between 300 and 600 Juicy Lucies a day.


The 5-8 Club in Minneapolis also stakes a claim to the burger's origin, but no matter who did it first, the Juicy Lucy is available at Twin Cities locales ranging from hole-in-the-wall bars to better-wear-a-tie eateries.

Skip Deilke, 41, first had a Lucy at Matt's about 10 years ago. He wasn't warned to let it sit to avoid a potentially painful cheese spurt, but he didn't mind.

"It was awesome," Deilke says. "I was hooked."

So when Deilke, co-owner of Renny's Parlour, opened his restaurant at 202 Broadway, he naturally put the Juicy Lucy on the menu. As far as he knew, it was the first time a Fargo restaurant gave the Minneapolis specialty a try.

"Which is weird, because there are so many college students from here from the Twin Cities," Deilke says.

It didn't stay on the menu and won't likely return, done in by the time and care it takes to make one.

Nelson says customers often tell him they're unable to figure out how to replicate a Lucy at home.

"It's a lot of work. It takes a touch to them," he says. "Which is good for me."


Though he declined to give out the recipe Matt's Bar uses, Nelson did have a few tips: Finer ground burger is better, patties should be thin, and the cooking should be done on a flat griddle.

"Other than that, it's not rocket science," he says.

Perhaps because Renny's no longer serves them up, Deilke was a little more forthcoming.

A common mistake is flattening the burger, he says, which tends to squirt the cheese out the edges. He also recommends a flat patty, a bit larger than a typical burger.

As for the cheese, he finds slices, or shredded cheese works well. Cheddar is the standard, but he's tried mozzarella, provolone and Muenster, and they've all worked.

To spice it up a bit, Deilke will sometimes drop some sautéed onions in with the cheese. Done right, it's a downright mess, he says.

"It's about a four-napkin burger," Deilke says.

Deilke's recipe is below, as well as two others for cheese-filled burgers.


½ pound 80 percent lean ground beef

1 thick slice cheddar

1 thick slice provolone

1 slice yellow onion

1 sesame seed bun

Tomato slice and some lettuce

Chop up the onions and sauté them in some oil or butter. Either add them with the cheese or put them atop the finished burger.

Split meat into even halves. Form two thin, wide patties. Place the cheese atop one patty. Place the other over the cheese. Seal the two patties by pinching them together like the edge of a pie crust.


Cook covered on a griddle set to 350 degrees for 7 minutes per side. Let sit for 3 to 5 minutes. Serve on the bun and garnish with lettuce and tomato as desired.

Makes one burger.

1 pound lean ground beef

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

¾ teaspoon Garlic Salt

½ teaspoon pepper

3 thin slices of Monterey Jack

Mix beef, Worcestershire, salt and pepper. Divide into 6 even portions. Make a thin round patty about 4½ inches across. Place a cheese slice onto 3 of the patties. Top each piece of cheese with a remaining patty. Press the edges together very well to seal.


Prepare a medium-hot grill and cook your patties as desired, about 4 to 5 minutes per side for medium-well. Serve with favorite toppings.

Makes 3 burgers.

1 pound lean ground beef

4 shakes Worcestershire sauce

Cracked black pepper

¼ pound blue cheese, cut into 4 pieces

¼ cup dry red wine

Kosher salt, to taste


4 crusty rolls or toasted sourbread

Sliced red onion and romaine lettuce

Season beef with Worcestershire and pepper. Take a quarter of the beef in your hand. Nest some blue cheese in the meat and form a patty around the filling. Keep the burgers less than ¾ inches thick.

Pour wine into a shallow dish. Turn each burger in wine and let rest while you heat a nonstick griddle to medium hot. Cook burgers 4 minutes on each side. Check internal temperature if you have one - 160 degrees is medium. Salt the burgers to your taste. Place them on rolls or bread and top with vegetables.

Makes 4 burgers.

Recipe from Skip DeilkeRecipe from Northern Lights Lodge and Resort in Ely, Minn.Recipe from "30-Minute Meals" by Rachael Ray Readers can reach Forum reporter Dave Roepke at (701) 241-5535

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