Bleu Burgers (with caramelized onions)

Ground Beef

Ground Beef

By Cat, Memorial Day, 2012 (Photo, right, from Wikimedia Commons)

This Memorial Day weekend marks the beginning of the summer season here in Western Montana. Out come the grills, and the fragrance of grilled steaks and burgers fills the neighborhood. If its raining, we may grill your burgers on stove top using a cast iron grill pan.

Ground beef’s most common use is burgers, but there are many other ways to use it as well, such as meatloaf, or the meat component of pierogi, pasties, casseroles and pasta dishes.

Choose your ground beef carefully

“Pink slime” is an additive in commercial packaged ground beef designed to use up scrap that would otherwise be thrown away; but many people question its healthfulness, as it can be a carrier of dangerous bacteria.

Most local butchers sell ground beef that is free of pink slime, but if you have a meat grinder (or a meat grinding attachment for your stand mixer), you can grind your own and have total control of what cuts of meat and other ingredients are used.

Another problem is the diet of the beeves. Most beef in supermarkets are raised in CAFOs (Confined Animal Feeding Operations), and are fed a diet of grains and soy, which are likely GMO. This is not a natural diet for cattle – their natural diet is the grasses and weeds of pasture.

When they are fed grains and legumes, their digestive system is not designed for this, and becomes to acidic, encouraging the growth of pathogenic bacteria such as pathogenic strains of E. coli which have made headlines in the last 15 years. it also degrades the health of the beasts, so that their meat is of lesser quality, and may be contaminated with pesticides and herbicides sprayed on the grains/legumes used in their feed.

Lastly, a diet of grains and legumes makes their meat too rich in Omega-6 fats (which promote inflammation in the human body), and too deficient in Omega-3 fats (which fight inflammation).

Therefore, I highly recommend buying your meats and especially ground beef directly from ranchers who feed their cattle in pasture, or from butchers who can attest the meat is from pastured animals. Or buy Organic meats to avoid the ag-chemicals.

Bleu Burgers (with caramelized onions)

This take on a cheeseburger is adapted from Fine Cooking (1); but I’ve had very similar burgers in several restaurants in Portland, and of course the famous Blue Burger at Bigfork’s ShowThyme restaurant (the owner’s name is Blue, and he uses Maytag blue cheese with the caramelized onions). Sliced mushrooms sauteed in butter are another great addition to this burger.

The original recipe serves 4, but I’ve modified it to serve 2. Each burger is 6 oz, but you can make them smaller at 4 oz each if you prefer. You can also use ground buffalo, venison, goat or lamb in burger. In fact, I far prefer buffalo burgers to beef.


You can prepare a tender cut of steak in much the same way, sans the burger bun, for an elegant presentation.

Another way to prepare and serve this burger is to shape the meat mix into an oval around a skewer for grilling. Saute the onions in butter, adding the cheese once the onions are caramelized and stir to make a sauce which you can then spoon over the ovals of meat served in a pita with fresh veggies like tomatoes and greens. This presentation is more common with lamb (see Kafta), but lamb doesn’t have the same ‘made in heaven’ relationship with blue cheese, as does beef or bison. Instead, soft goat cheese is used.

Ingredients & Equipment:

  • 1 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 sweet yellow onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
  • ¾ lb lean ground beef (or venison, buffalo, yak)
  • ½ Tbsp chopped fresh tarragon or ½ tsp dried
  • ½ Tbsp prepared Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • olive oil (for the grill)
  • 1 oz blue cheese, crumbled (about ½ cup)
  • 2 rolls, split (I like Kaiser rolls)
  • cast iron skillet
  • outdoor grill
  • medium-large bowl



  1. Prepare grill fire.
  2. Melt butter in skillet over medium-low heat. Add onions and cook until caramelized and soft, about 20 minutes, stirring frequently. Reduce heat to low if onions begin to brown to quickly.
  3. Meanwhile, mix beef, tarragon, mustard and Worcestershire sauce, using your hands until well blended. Form into two ½”-thick patties, 6 oz each (or three 4-oz patties).
  4. Oil the grate and grill the burgers, covered, 3 minutes. Turn them over and top with the cheese. Cover and cook about 4 minutes more for medium-rare (130°F internal temp), or 6 minutes for medium (145°F internal temp).
  5. When nearly done, toast the rolls cut side down on the grill until toasted and heated through. Remove to a plate, top roll-bottoms with the burgers and caramelized onions, and crown with the roll-tops.

Assembly or Serving ideas

  • Serve with a salad of fresh spring greens, baby spinach and fresh mustard leaves, with blue cheese or feta crumbles and a vinaigrette dressing; or Nicoise potato salad (make with anchovy paste in the dressing, but skip the tuna in the salad).
  • Strawberry shortcake with freshly whipped raw cream, or rhubarb custard pie make an excellent dessert for your cookout.


  1. Fine Cooking recipe (

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