Better Cheese...Better Cheeseburgers
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The “Better Burger” revolution is here, and it ain’t goin’ anywhere anytime soon. In fact, the better burger segment grew 16 percent in 2010, outpacing the growth of the restaurant industry in general.1
The beauty of this burger renaissance is that we all get to enjoy new flavors of creativity. So, what’s the bird’s-eye lowdown on how chefs are marketing a premium burger (and at a premium price, natch)? Well, the easy money would be to experiment with sauces and condiments. But what about the simple, oft-ignored slice of cheese? This is where you can exploit the flavor notes of premium beef. But not with the old standby American or Swiss. No, you want to go big with FLAVORED cheese.
Many cheese houses are bringing big, bold, almost intoxicating flavors with everything from wine and beer to honey, herbs, spices and even chocolate. Your guests’ taste buds will hit the jackpot with an extra layer of flavor that apple- smoked cheddar or whiskey blue cheese might bring to the burger party.
Here are a few fun ideas for how to convert your guests into cheese cheerleaders while enjoying the textured elixir of premium burgers.
• Spreadable cheeses. Creamy and lush, a spreadable cheese can add a needed flavor depth and a rich mouthfeel to veggie burgers (and trust us, the irony of a vegetable burger is not lost on us carnivores). You have a lot of cool options in spreadable cheeses such as artichoke, garlic & herb and vegetable. And FYI: Spreadable cheese has a long (four-month) shelf life.
• Soft cheeses. Quick-melting soft cheeses are great if you’re in a time crunch. Just crumble or slice them onto your burger, run them under the salamander and, voila!, you’ve added a new layer of flavor with pixie dust disguised as soft cheese. They also pair particularly well with poultry (chicken or turkey). And you have options, too: crumbled or block style, a feta with Mediterranean herbs or tomato and basil can add an exotic flavor and color to your burgers. While the ancient Greeks may have started modern society, they never thought of goat cheese with herbs resting nicely on a Greek burger.
• Semi-soft cheeses. It’s super easy to add robust flavor to just about every type of burger – veggie, turkey or beef – with versatile semi-soft cheeses. So be daring and go crazy with a chipotle Jack or a Havarti flavored with horseradish and dill. A premium burger deserves a bit of sophisticated flavor, and who are you to deny the burger its happiness?
• Hard or semi-hard cheeses. These cheeses are the flavor doorman at Club Burger. They tend to be a bit harder (hence the category), but hard and semi-hard cheeses bring a big flavor punch that can stand up to even the heartiest steak burger. Consider a hot habanero, smoky bacon or even Buffalo wing-style cheddar to go with that “hunger-buster” burger. Or try a “salsa” Asiago, with sun-dried tomatoes, onions, garlic and ancho peppers for bold, on-trend flavor.
Local cheese producers may offer signature flavors like these in your area. And of course, check your major distributor as well.
We’ll give you a start on your better burgers. Check out the recipes for the Mediterranean-style Herbed Feta Turkey Burgers
, which get their sunny flavor from herb-marinated feta. Or go “way uptown” with the “Black Tie” Burger
, made delectable with black truffle cheese.
1. Negrete, Rita, “Lessons From Growth Chains,” Flavor & the Menu, 2011, Issue 4.
This article was written by your sandwich pros at SandwichPro.com.