I’m just going to come out and say it, burgers are my jam! This past summer I was voted as having one of the top burger recipes in the country, so now the pressure is really on whenever friends come over to my house. Recently, I decided to marry the flavors of French onion soup with a burger, and boom, culinary mind blown. This recipe is such a crowd pleaser; it includes succulent veal, cognac braised onions, and even that top layer of cheese that you burn your mouth on because you just can’t wait for it to cool down. I’m a firm believer in following a few rules for successful burger making, so here is how we make the Veal French Onion Burger.
To make the cognac braised onions, preheat your KitchenAid® Streamline Cast Iron 6-Quart Casserole over medium heat with half a stick of butter. I love using this casserole because it’s made of cast iron and has a heavy bottom, which helps distribute the heat evenly. Slice two yellow onions and add them to the pot along with a bay leaf. Here is where being patient pays off. Cook these onions for 45 minutes, stirring often until thick and jammy. The beauty of using this casserole is you could also just stick it in a 350 degree oven and let the onions caramelize in there.
After 45 minutes it’s time to add cognac, fresh thyme, beef or veal stock, and some salt and pepper. You could make this one day ahead of time and just keep it in the refrigerator.
Rule number 1 for successful burger making is creating texture by adding some kind of crunch. The top layer of melted gruyere cheese is honestly my favorite part of French onion soup, so to recreate that you can make a gruyere crisp. Grate 1/4 cup of cheese and put 1 tablespoon mounds on your KitchenAid® Nonstick 13″x18″ Jelly Roll Pan. Use your fingers to spread the mounds out a little so they are kind of flat and crack on a bit of fresh pepper. I love using these jelly roll pans because they conduct heat so well and are nonstick, so there’s no need to use parchment paper.
Cook the crisps in a 400 degree F oven for 10 minutes until golden brown. Take them out of the oven and let them cool on the pan. I would highly recommend making extra crisps because you will find yourself nibbling on them. You can also make these ahead of time.
Finally, it’s time for the burger. Rule 2, I’ve found that size really does matter, so use a ring mold or the lid of a peanut butter jar and form 6 ounce patties with ground veal. Unlike steak, you want burgers to be cold when you cook them, that will ensure they don’t break apart and the texture doesn’t get mushy. So stash the patties in your refrigerator until ready to cook. Preheat your KitchenAid® Grill and Panini Press to medium-high heat for 5 minutes. Using this pan is a great way to grill inside and get some char and grill marks on your burger.
Rule 3, right before cooking, use your thumb to dimple the burger in the middle, this will prevent it from blowing up like a football while cooking. Also season both sides pretty aggressively with kosher salt and pepper. Cook for 7 minutes then flip. Check out those beautiful grill marks thanks to our pan.
Put some grated gruyere cheese on top of each burger and let it melt. Rule 4, to make sure your cheese melts properly, add two ice cubes to the pan and put a lid or large bowl over the top. The moisture will help the cheese melt evenly.
To build the burger, start with the bottom part of your toasted brioche bun, yes, we have to keep it all things French. Schmear on a layer of 50/50 mayonnaise and dijon mustard and then put on some red leaf lettuce. I find the lettuce and mayo-dijon prevent the dreaded “soggy bottom bun” syndrome. Next place your burger patty and some braised onions, top it with the gruyere crisp and sandwich underneath the top of the brioche bun. Voilà, you have a burger that is seasoned properly, has texture, and is the perfect marriage of French onion soup and a burger!
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Veal French Onion Burger
Makes 5 burgers
For the burger
2 pounds ground veal
Fresh cracked pepper
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
16 ounce block of Gruyere cheese, grated
Brioche buns (potato rolls are a good substitute)
Red leaf lettuce
For the onions
2 pounds yellow onions, sliced
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon freshly chopped thyme
1/4 cup cognac or brandy
1 cup of low sodium veal stock or beef stock
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Fresh cracked pepper
For the onions, melt the butter in a KitchenAid® Streamline Cast Iron 6-Quart Casserole over medium heat. Add sliced onions, bay leaf, and cook for 45 minutes until soft and caramelized, stirring often. You can’t rush this step, so take your time; this step can be done 1 day ahead of time. Add the cognac and thyme and cook until almost all of the cognac has dissolved. Add the veal/beef stock, salt, and a few cracks of fresh pepper, lower the heat to medium-low and cook until almost all of the liquid has evaporated. Take off heat and set aside.
For the burgers, form 6 ounce portions of ground veal (use a scale or eyeball it) into a large meatball. Using a ring mold, lid of a peanut butter or mayo jar, or your hands, form the burger patties into a uniform size. Chill the burgers in the refrigerator until right before you cook them.
Meanwhile, to make the cheese crisps, preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. On a KitchenAid® Nonstick 13″x18″ Jelly Roll Pan, measure 1 heaping tablespoon of grated cheese and use your finger to spread that pile out into a circle. Add a touch of cracked pepper on top and repeat 4 more times. Bake for 10-12 minutes until golden brown and keep an eye on these because they burn quickly. Take the pan out of the oven and set aside, the cheese will harden into crackers within 10 minutes. You may want to make extra because they are snack-worthy.
Preheat a KitchenAid® Grill and Panini Press over medium heat. Grab the burgers from the refrigerator and season one side with 1/4 teaspoon salt and a couple cracks of pepper. Place seasoned side down in the pan. Use your fingers to make a wide dimple in the middle of the burgers, this will prevent them from plumping up like a football while cooking. Season the top side of your burgers with same amount of salt and pepper and let cook for 7 minutes on the first side. Flip burgers; you should have a beautiful crust. Cook 1 more minute then add a small handful of grated cheese on each burger, toss 2-3 ice cubes in the pan and cover with a lid. The ice will help the cheese melt evenly and add extra moisture to the burger. Cook 4 minutes and move cooked burgers to a plate to rest for 2 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix the mayonnaise and mustard together and set aside, and toast your buns if you desire. To build your burger schmear some mayo-dijon mixture on the bottom bun, top with a piece of lettuce, the burger, a generous amount of cognac braised onions, the cheese crisp, and the top bun. Enjoy!
*The Contributor of this post has been compensated by KitchenAid for this post, but this post represents the Contributor’s own opinion.*