The Caramelized Onion Swap For Quicker Patty Melt Sandwiches

There are several variations of the classic American cheeseburger, but perhaps none is more satisfying than the patty melt. The patty melt essentially converts the cheeseburger into sandwich form. Instead of being between a bun, the burger patty is between two slices of pan toasted sandwich bread with melted cheese and caramelized onions.

Caramelized onions add a sweet, jammy layer to the patty melt, but they are often time-consuming to make. However, cookbook author Molly Stevens writes in Food & Wine that there's an onion swap for quicker patty melts: charred scallions.

To make her substitute for caramelized onions, Stevens tosses her whole scallions (with hairy root ends removed) in olive oil, salt and pepper. Then, she tosses her scallions in a hot skillet, moving them occasionally, until they get a nice char on some parts of the scallion and have softened everywhere else. The whole, charred scallions are coarsely chopped and added to a chipotle-mayo sauce that she layers into her patty melts.

Charred scallions add a smoky sweetness

In a typical patty melt, the sweetness of caramelized onions helps cut through the richness of cheese and burger patty. The onions into a melty dark color because they've had the chance to brown slowly, releasing their moisture, and caramelizing. However, making caramelized onions can take anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour depending on the consistency, brownness, and sweetness of the onions you're aiming for.

Stevens' substitution takes less than five minutes for charred scallions. Scallions, basically the same as green onions, have a smokier and less intense onion flavor compared to yellow onion. When you char a scallion, it becomes smoky and sweet which plays a beautiful mimic for onion caramelization in a pinch.

Charred scallions aren't just for patty melts. They can provide a crucial sweetness in a saucy salsa verde or a gremolata topping. When paired with a creamy condiment like yogurt or sour cream, they become part of a delicious dip that's finished with lemon juice and zest. Whether it's for your patty melt or an accompanying sauce, Stevens' charred scallions bring a delightfully tender and sweet swap to caramelized onions in mere minutes.