BBQ, Tex-Mex, Chili… There are several things that define the Texas food scene. But today’s recipe is very special part of the Texas tradition.
No night of dancing, bar-hopping, or even just hanging out with friends is complete without a stop through Whataburger. It’s so bad and so good.
The Monterey Melt, in its heart-stopping greasy goodness, is one of my favorite menu items. There’s just something about a toasted bun, two juicy beef patties with melty cheese in the center, topped with roasted onions and peppers and a delicious jalapeno ranch that just screams, “GET IN MAH BELLY!”
It also cures any hangover. (Their taquitos do as well and the honey chicken biscuit)
The most important thing to remember with this recipe, or really any recipe involving beef, ground or otherwise, is to choose the right type. And it’s such a widely discussed topic that there are things such as meat scientists. (Really, it’s true). So let’s break it down.
And obviously, buy what you want. I am not a meat scientist. But this is what I know:
Meat is generally broken up into different grades. The ones you’ll most commonly see in the grocery store are Prime, Choice and Select. Now if you were me 5 years ago, you’d wander the store, tight on a budget and just ask, “what is the cheapest kind?” without paying attention to anything else. After all, I thought knowing specifics about your food other than whether or not it is beef or pork is left to the professional chefs and at-home gourmand.
But that kind of thinking left me with bland, boring food. Dishes that were just… okay, and certainly nothing to write home about. And when meat is the star of your dish, you really want it to shine.
So think of it as three tiers, good, better and best. Select is good, choice is better and prime is best. This site will explain it better than I can, but the idea is to choose a cut with more marbling. That kind of stuff is important to know if/when you start grinding your own meat.
But as far as the supermarket ground meats, there’s another thing to consider. Do you want ground beef, chuck, or round/sirloin?
As you’ll see on the package, they all contain different amounts of fat – ground beef with the most and sirloin with the least.
Just regular ground beef is considered the best for burgers as the fat content will produce a juicier, more flavorful burger. And if you’re not grinding your own, I agree!
So choose your beef, load up your burger and tell me this is not one of the greatest burgers you’ve ever had.
Until next time. X
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Items used in this recipe:
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Copycat Monterey Melt Burger
A copycat recipe of a fast food favorite: the Monterey Melt. It’s a juicy burger piled high with cheese, grilled peppers and onions and jalapeno ranch.
For the burger:
- 2 lbs ground beef
- 2 eggs
- 1/4 c. breadcrumbs
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- pinch of salt, to taste
For the jalapeno ranch:
- 1 c. mayonnaise
- 1/3 c. buttermilk
- 1/3 c. sour cream
- 3 jalapenos, stemmed and diced
- 1/2 c. chopped cilantro
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 oz. ranch packet or 3 TB DIY Ranch Seasoning
- 2 TB vegetable oil
- 1 yellow onion, sliced into strips
- 1 poblano pepper, stemmed, seeded and sliced into strips
- 4 (or 8)* hamburger buns
- 8 slices pepper jack cheese
For the Burgers:
- In a large bowl, mix the ground beef, eggs, garlic powder, onion powder and black pepper. Split the mixture into 8 equal portions and flatten into patties about 1/2″ larger than your buns. Make an indention in the center of each patty. This will keep them from rising.
- Prepare a charcoal grill and heat it to 375°F. If using a stove, heat a skillet on medium-high heat.
- Sear the burgers about 4 minutes on each side and cook to preferred level of doneness. Remove to a plate and season with a pinch of salt as they rest.
For the peppers and onions:
- In a medium cast iron skillet, place the vegetable oil, onions and peppers and set it on your grill to cook alongside the burgers. If using the stove, heat the oil in a medium skillet on medium heat and saute the peppers and onions for about 3 minutes. Reduce heat to low and let simmer for another 12-15 minutes until soft and translucent.
For the jalapeno ranch:
- In the bowl of a blender or food processor, place the mayonnaise, buttermilk, sour cream, jalapenos, cilantro, garlic and ranch seasoning. Blend until smooth and thin, like a dressing. Set aside and chill until ready to use. **This step is best done ahead of time, if possible. It tastes better the second day after the flavors have had time to meld.
- While the grill is still hot, spray the insides of your buns lightly with oil and place on the grill oil side down. Toast for less than a minute, just enough time to get brown and crispy.
- In order, layer the bun, patty, cheese, patty, and cheese. The heat from the burger should melt the cheese, but microwave for 30 seconds if needed. Top with a quarter of the peppers and onions and a nice helping of jalapeno ranch. Finish with the top bun and enjoy this amazing southwest burger!
*These make big half-pound burgers. If you want a lighter burger or to stretch the recipe to feed more people, using only one patty per burger will yield 8 quarter-pound burgers.
**The actual Monterey Melt uses American and Monterey Jack cheese. Instead of Pepper Jack, feel free to use two slices each on the burgers for more authenticity.
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