Long before hamburgers were tricked out with crazy toppers, the patty melt was the fancy alternative to a cheeseburger. A tasty cross-section of two sandwiches, the grilled cheese and the burger, the genius of a patty melt speaks for itself: a griddled burger, crisp golden rye bread and a tangle of caramelized onions, all fused together with Swiss cheese. To boost our patty further, we added ground bacon to the beef along with toasted caraway seeds, garlic powder and Worcestershire sauce. It's a cheesy classic in all the right ways.
Bacon-Boosted Patty Melt
Recipe from the Tasting Table Test Kitchen
Yield: 2 sandwiches
Cook Time: 40 minutes
2 bacon strips, sliced crosswise into ½-inch pieces
1½ teaspoons caraway seeds
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
1 medium yellow onion, halved and thinly sliced lengthwise
2¼ teaspoons kosher salt, divided
¾ pound 85% lean ground beef
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
4 slices rye bread
4 slices Swiss cheese
1. On a small plate, freeze the sliced bacon for 20 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, toast the caraway seeds: To a large skillet set over medium heat, add the caraway seeds and cook, stirring often, until golden and fragrant, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a small plate and set aside. To the skillet, add 1½ tablespoons of the butter. Increase the heat to medium-high and once the butter is melted, add the onion and cook until it is slightly browned and soft, 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in 1¼ teaspoons of salt, reduce the heat to medium-low, and continue to cook until the onion is caramelized and very soft, about 10 minutes longer. Transfer the onion to a medium plate.
3. Remove the bacon from the freezer and place it in the bowl of a food processor. Process the bacon until it is finely ground and crumbly, 5 to 6 seconds. In a medium bowl, add the ground bacon, toasted caraway seeds, ground beef, Worcestershire, Dijon mustard, garlic powder, the remaining 1 teaspoon of salt and the black pepper and mix to combine.
4. Shape the beef mixture into two ½-inch-thick patties, each about the size of the sliced rye bread. Set the large skillet back over medium-high heat. Add the remaining ½ tablespoon of butter and once melted, add the beef patties. Cook until browned on both sides, 5 to 6 minutes total, then transfer to a plate. Clean out the skillet and return it to the stovetop.
5. Spread the mayonnaise over 1 side of all 4 bread slices, then turn the slices over. Top each of the 4 bread slices with a cheese slice. Add a burger patty to 2 of the cheese-topped bread slices. Divide the onions over the burger patties and flip the remaining 2 bread slices onto the onions so the mayonnaise-coated side faces up.
6. Set the clean skillet over medium heat. Place the sandwiches in the skillet and cook until golden, 4 to 5 minutes. Use a spatula to carefully turn the sandwiches over and brown the other side, 4 to 5 minutes longer. Transfer the patty melts to a cutting board, slice on a bias and serve.