A Big Mac Patty Melt is a frivolous but wonderful thing. It’s definitely a recipe that doesn’t need to exist. It falls under the same category as deep-fried mac n’ cheese and fried chicken and waffles – recipes that are a bit much. But I’m willing to bet that there are moments in your life when you’re glad these over-the-top dishes are there. When the phrase “Don’t just eat a hamburger, eat the help out of it” couldn’t ring truer. And I had one of those moments last week when I made this Big Mac Patty Melt.
Last week nothing particularly bad happened to me. It was more like a lot of little, needling things happened to me. They accumulated and manifested themselves into a truly bad mood and a general loss of confidence. I won’t bore you with the details but I will tell you I was far from optimistic.
Enter the Big Mac Patty Melt. More than a little inspired by my favorite burger growing up and tasting exactly like the few rare fast food meals of my youth, this sandwich is a real mood booster. I coveted takeout and drive-thru meals as a child, I think because my mom really didn’t let us have them all that often. So when I was a seven-year-old, a big mac was my idea of haute cuisine. I’m happy to report I have evolved since then and stopped worshipping at the altar of major food chains. But if my happy childhood memories had a flavor, this Big Mac Patty Melt is what they would taste like.
So what are we looking at here? You’re looking at a seared 1/4-pound patty sandwiched between toasty rye bread and two slices of melty cheddar. The burger is topped with both caramelized onions, and fresh red onions. And finished with crisp iceberg lettuce, pickle slices, and of course, special sauce. It’s my version of special sauce, which means it doesn’t have sweet relish because I’m not much of a relish fan. I elected to add minced dill pickle instead. I briefly contemplated making this sandwich double-decker like its namesake but thought better of it. It’s unruly enough, frankly.
Why shredded lettuce? Goodness, I had to be authentic, didn’t I? Is a Big Mac really a Big Mac without iceberg lettuce spilling out of the bun? But all jokes aside, you can add whole leaves of iceberg lettuce to your Big Mac Patty Melt if you want. And if the thought of warm lettuce wigs you out, I simply must introduce you to my Grilled Romaine Salad. Again, I’m kidding. Just leave the lettuce off or add shredded green cabbage instead. It is heartier and stands up to heat well. But for my money, iceberg lettuce is integral to the Big Mac experience.
Now, I alluded to this earlier but it is worth mentioning explicitly – this is a messy sandwich. We’re talking about a multiple-napkin affair. So keep this recipe for your nearest and dearest – formal company need not apply. But having said that, this Big Mac Patty Melt is more than worth the mess. And it’s surprisingly simple to put together. Another selling feature is you can make as many or as few as you need. So if by some miracle you find yourself home alone and wanting to take full advantage, you can whip up this bad boy up for your lonesome, no problem.
So what does this recipe entail? Well, it starts with ground beef. I went with regular ground because I think it makes better burgers. But if you’d rather, you can certainly use lean ground beef. But no extra lean, please. An extra lean burger is so dry, it’s not worth your time. For that iconic ultra-thin fast food patty, form your meat into a ball and place it on top of some parchment paper on a plate. Place a plate of a similar size on top of the giant meatball and press. Make a dent in the center of the patty with your thumb and season with salt. Yes, just salt. It’s all your burger really needs.
Place the patty in a hot cast iron skillet, seasoned side down, and peel off the parchment paper. Cook until slightly charred on both sides. Set the burgers aside. Now, you don’t have to keep them warm. They will reheat while we’re building the melt. Pour off all but 2 tablespoons of the fat that accumulated in the skillet. Add a yellow onion to the remaining fat and caramelize it over low heat. This is the lengthiest portion of the recipe.
When the onions are golden, take them out of the skillet, and add two slices of rye bread in their place. Toast the slices until golden on one side and flip them. Now, it’s time to build the Big Mac Patty Melt. And yes, we’re going to do that inside the skillet. Start by spreading the special sauce on one slice and top it with pickle slices. Add a slice of cheese, the burger, and the caramelized onions. Finish with slices of red onion, a mountain of iceberg lettuce, and a final slice of cheese. Place the remaining rye slice on top.
By the time you’re finished building the patty melt, the cheese on the bottom should have melted. So flip the patty melt and melt the cheese on the opposite side. Make sure you keep the heat relatively low, so the rye doesn’t burn before the cheese has a chance to melt. Once the second slice of cheese is all melty, you’re ready to eat.
And that’s everything you need to know about this Big Mac Patty Melt. It’s indulgent, nostalgic, and blissfully messy. Everything you need to combat a bad day.
Big Mac Patty Melt
- 1 large cast iron griddle or frying pan
- 454g (1lb) regular ground beef
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 yellow onion sliced into half moons
- 8 slices rye bread
- 1 batch special sauce see below
- 2 dill pickles sliced
- 8 slices cheddar cheese
- ½ red onion thinly sliced
- ¼ head iceberg lettuce shredded
- ½ cup mayo
- 1 dill pickle minced
- 1 tbsp ketchup
- 1 tbsp yellow mustard
- 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
For the Sauce
- Place all of the ingredients in a bowl and stir to combine. Chill until ready to serve.½ cup mayo, 1 dill pickle, 1 tbsp ketchup, 1 tbsp yellow mustard, 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
For the Patty Melt
- Divide the ground beef into four evenly-sized meatballs. Place a small square of parchment paper on a small plate and place one of the meatballs on top. Using a plate of a similar size, press the plate on top of the meatball to form a thin patty. Transfer the patty to a plate and repeat with the remaining meatballs.454g (1lb) regular ground beef
- Once all the patties are formed, make a deep indent in the center of each with your thumb. Sprinkle the patties with salt and set them aside.
- Pour the olive oil into a large cast iron skillet or griddle. Once the oil is shimmering, place the patties in the skillet, seasoned side down. Peel off the parchment paper and season the naked side with salt. Sear until slightly charred on both sides. This should only take a minute or two on each side.1 tbsp olive oil
- Transfer the burgers to a plate and set them aside. Pour off all but 2 tablespoons of the fat that accumulated in the skillet or griddle. Add the yellow onion followed by a generous pinch of salt. Cook the onions over medium-low heat until golden and quite soft. About 10 minutes.1 yellow onion
- Remove the onions from the skillet and set them aside. Place the rye bread slices in the skillet ** Toast until lightly golden on one side. Flip the bread and reduce the heat to low.8 slices rye bread
- Spread a little of the special sauce on half of the rye slices. Top the sauce with pickle slices and a slice of cheese. Place the burgers on top of the cheese and top the burger with the caramelized onions, red onions, lettuce, and another slice of cheese.1 batch special sauce, 2 dill pickles, 8 slices cheddar cheese, ½ red onion, ¼ head iceberg lettuce
- When the bottom slice of cheese melts, place the naked pieces of rye on top and flip the sandwiches. Cook until the second piece of cheese melts as well. Transfer the melts to a plate and serve immediately.