As I found out from an epic post on eGullet, a patty melt is a very definite thing. You can dress up a burger in many different ways but the patty melt is locked in stone. It only has a few ingredients, all of which are crucial. Rye bread provides the foundation and the Swiss cheese is a natural partner. Then it's just grilled onions and a hamburger. Thanks to the interplay of all the ingredients, you don't need ketchup or mustard. Believe me, I tried a little of both and it was oddly distracting.
The only trick I could discern from Saveur is to cook the burger and onions separately, combine them on the sandwich with a couple cheese slices, then griddle the whole thing. The sandwich comes out of the pan all buttered and crisp on top with two slices of melted Swiss cheese, griddled onions, and a perfectly cooked patty inside. It's a wonder.
This is honestly the first time I've ever made one from scratch. I'm going to have to change that.
- 8 ounces ground beef
- 1 small onion, thinly sliced
- 4 slices rye bread
- 4 slices Swiss cheese
- 2 tablespoons Canola oil
- 2 tablespoons butter, room temperature
- Salt and black pepper
Divide the meat into two balls. Form each one into a 1/4-inch patty that is just slightly larger than the slices of bread. Season each patty generously with salt and pepper.
Pour 1 tablespoon of the oil into a small skillet set over medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook until browned, about 10 minutes or so. Set aside.
Top two of the slices of bread each with some onions, a slice of cheese, cooked patty, another slice of cheese and finally a slice of bread. Slather each sandwich on top and bottom with the butter.
Wipe out the skillet. Then turn the heat to medium. Add the sandwiches. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes a side, or until the bread is golden browned and the cheese has melted.Slice in half diagonally and serve.