The origin story of these Stilton Burgers is a long and frankly weird one. It involves a game my family invented where a crushed pop bottle is the ball. It’s best described as snow rugby but, um, with fewer rules. Yeah, it’s weird. Anyway, this was always the lunch of choice after our annual game. I won’t bore you with all the strange details. All you need to know is my family makes these burgers every year during the week between Christmas and New Year’s. Its primary function is to make use of leftover Stilton and to have an excuse to cook outdoors. Snowy picnics are rad in case you didn’t know.
Now, today’s recipe is not a faithful recreation of the Stilton Burgers of my youth. Mostly because the only consistent ingredients year to year are the burger, bun, and Stilton. The toppings are always whatever we have in the fridge. So I decided to have a little fun and add some sweet pickled red onions, a yogurt sauce with horseradish and mint, and a mountain of arugula. My family would never have put this much effort into the toppings, but I just gotta be me.
I don’t know about you, but every year for Christmas I tend to over-buy cheese. You want variety on your cheese boards, so buying three or more makes good sense. The only trouble with buying three or more is that that happens to be a fair amount of cheese. I always seem to wildly overestimate my snacking prowess. And fail to factor in the massive marathon of meals that come with the holiday season. When you’re stumbling from roast dinner to roast dinner, it’s hard to find the room for a cheese plate.
So inevitably when the holiday dust settles, I’m left with a fair amount of cheese. And because blue cheese tends to divide a room and I refuse to have Christmas without it, I tend to always have Stilton. What I have observed with professed blue cheese haters is they are far more lenient when the cheese makes its way into a salad or, say, on top of a burger.
These Stilton Burgers are so simple to make I almost feel guilty for making this a stand-alone recipe. But let’s go through the process, shall we? Everything starts with a red onion. Generally, when I’m making anything that involves a pickle, quick or otherwise, I like to set that process up first. It takes the longest amount of time. You can make the pickled red onion the same day you make the burgers. But I would suggest starting them on their pickle journey in the morning and leaving them to pickle at room temperature. If you’re making them a day ahead you can go ahead and let them pickle in the fridge overnight.
Now, I made my own burger buns and you can too. You can find the recipe here. But don’t feel obligated. If you are keen to take on this extra credit assignment, start the dough right after you tackle the pickles. By the time the buns emerge glorious and golden from the oven, your pickled onions will be ready.
I’m not going to spend much time going over the horseradish yogurt sauce because it’s really just stirring. But I will say this Sauce can be made a few days in advance. And not only that, I think it improves with a little sit in the fridge. The garlic, yogurt, and horseradish get to know each other a little better and that is a very good thing.
Now, let’s talk about the actual burgers. I went into quite a lot of detail when I overthought cheeseburgers last summer, so if you want to understand my thoughts on the matter, I suggest you peep the video. I applied almost exactly the same method to forming and seasoning these Stilton burgers, although I did make them beefier. These bad boys are 5oz or 142g each.
When forming your burgers don’t manhandle them too much. Don’t work seasoning into the meat and don’t bother with binders. Use ground beef with a little more fat than you normally would. Think of your burger as you would a steak. You want a steak with good marbling, right?! And that fat will be all the binder you need. Season your burgers simply with salt, once again as you would a steak.
Now get a cast iron skillet good and hot and sear the burgers on both sides. This should only take about 2-3 minutes. Don’t overcook your burger. If you would like a little more guidance when cooking your burgers, refer once again to my cheeseburger post. It includes the internal temperatures you should be aiming for based on how cooked you like your burger. I’ve always been a medium rare person but that’s just me. Once you flip your burgers, top them with the blue cheese and cover the skillet. The cover will create a dome of heat and encourage the stilton to melt more readily while the second side of the burger cooks.
Once the burgers are cooked, it’s time to plate. You can of course top your burger bun in whatever order you please. I started by slathering both sides of the bun with the yogurt sauce, topping the bottom bun with the pickled onions, and placing the burger on top to help hold the onions in place. The burgers were finished pile of fresh arugula and I did not dawdle when serving them. I find hot sandwiches have a very limited shelf life.
And that’s everything you need to know about these Stilton Burgers. This recipe is not just a clever way to use up leftover cheese scraps, it’s also a cozy winter bbq main that will make January and February feel a lot less miserable.
Stilton Burgers with Sweet Pickled Red Onions
- 1 small saucepan
- 1 Large Cast Iron Skillet
- 2 small plates of equal size
Sweet Pickled Red Onions
- 2 cloves garlic peeled and crushed
- 1 cup white vinegar
- ½ cup water
- 2 tbsp granulated sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp black peppercorns
- 2 bay leaves
- ½ large red onion cut into wedges
Horseradish Yogurt Sauce
- ⅔ cup Greek yogurt
- 1 clove garlic minced
- 2 tbsp fresh mint finely chopped
- 2 tbsp prepared horseradish
- ½ tsp salt
- 567g (1.25 lb) ground beef not extra lean**
- 150g (5oz) stilton crumbled
- 1 batch hamburger buns ***
- 1 batch Horseradish Yogurt Sauce
- 1 batch Sweet Pickled Red Onions
- 1 cup fresh arugula
For the Sweet Pickled Red Onions
- Place the garlic, vinegar, water, sugar, salt, peppercorns, and bay leaves in a small saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil and cook until the sugar dissolves.2 cloves garlic, 1 cup white vinegar, ½ cup water, 2 tbsp granulated sugar, 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp black peppercorns, 2 bay leaves
- Place the red onion wedges in a bowl and cover them with the vinegar mixture. Let pickle at room temperature for 3 hours. ****½ large red onion
For the Horseradish Yogurt Sauce
- Place all of the ingredients in a bowl and stir to combine. Chill until ready to serve.⅔ cup Greek yogurt, 1 clove garlic, 2 tbsp fresh mint, 2 tbsp prepared horseradish, ½ tsp salt
For the Stilton Burgers
- Place a small piece of parchment paper in the center of a small plate. Place a 142g or 5oz piece of the ground beef in the center of the parchment paper. Press the meat into a patty using the underside of a similarly sized plate. Transfer the patty, parchment paper and all, to a large plate. Season one side with salt and set it aside. Repeat with the remaining ground beef.567g (1.25 lb) ground beef
- Heat a large cast iron skillet until smoking. Place the burgers in the skillet, seasoned side down. Peel off the parchment paper and season the side facing up with salt. Cook for about 2-3 minutes.
- Flip the burgers and top immediately with the stilton. Cover the skillet and cook for 2 minutes more or until the burgers register an internal temperature of at least 145°F or at most 160°F. Transfer the burgers to a plate and set aside.150g (5oz) stilton
- Working quickly, slice the buns and toast them in the skillet with the burger juices. Once the buns are golden, slather them with the Horseradish Yogurt Sauce and top them with the Sweet Pickled Red Onions, the burgers, and arugula. Place the top bun on top and serve immediately.1 batch hamburger buns ***, 1 batch Horseradish Yogurt Sauce, 1 batch Sweet Pickled Red Onions, 1 cup fresh arugula