Have you ever had your mouth all set for something you know to be yummy, only to have everything that could go wrong do just that? We like to spend time exploring the small towns up and down Highway 49, so named after the miners that struck gold back in 1849 in what is now know as “The Mother Lode”. One of my favorite towns to visit is Jackson. I love the historic hotel at the end of main street. I love the nearby Rosebud Cafe with all sorts of fresh creations from their garden. You get what you pay for, and Rosebud’s isn’t cheap – but man is it good!
The trouble with traveling through the Mother Lode is that some of the better diners close early. These are mom and pop joints run by the entire family. Great for breakfast and lunch, but don’t look to find them open much beyond three in the afternoon. Can’t blame them. Who wouldn’t want to be home in the evening? Still, these family run diners leave late afternoon travelers in a pinch. And so it was that we ended up dining at a popular hamburger joint just off the main highway through town that caters to the dinner crowd. The first time around, the food was great, the service good and the whole experience was just what your would expect from a burger joint in a small town. The next time through town, we knew exactly where to stop. After a day of hiking around in the foothills we went back to a place we knew and liked. Maybe our second visit was an off day for everyone. Maybe they were understaffed. But then again, maybe the first time around was a fluke and the experience the second time around was the norm. All I know was that we will NEVER go there again. Why? Let’s just look at the highlights . . .
- The wait for a table nearly 45 minutes (to be excepted from the only game in town)
- Once seated, it was nearly 20 minutes before anyone came by the table
- The food delivered was not the food we ordered – not even close
- When the correct food was brought out, it was cold and someone had poured ketchup on the plates next to the fries (we could be wrong, but we think it was delivered to the wrong table, handled by strangers before realizing the mistake)
- We left without eating and have not been back since
Still I was craving that great burger we enjoyed the first time around. One thing about diner-style burgers is that it doesn’t take much to figure out how to get your fix at home, right? This recipe always manages to satisfy that diner joint burger need. So here ya go.
Diner-Style Sourdough Bacon Burgers
1 1/3 lbs Fresh Lean Ground Beef
8 Slices Bacon, cooked crisp
8 Tablespoons Thousand Island Dressing
8 Slices Sharp Cheddar Cheese
1 Large Onion, chopped
2 Tablespoons butter + enough soft butter to lightly butter bread and grill onions
8 Slices of Sourdough Bread
Salt & Pepper to Taste
Shredded Lettuce – optional
Sliced Tomato – Optional
Hamburger Pickle Chips – Optional
Form ground beef into four 1/3 pound oblong patties, slightly larger than sourdough bread slices. Season burgers with salt and pepper, set aside until ready to cook.
Peel and dice an onion. Place in a skillet with just a little butter and cook until tender and just beginning to caramelize. Set aside until ready to use.
While the onions are grilling, fry up the bacon strips on a flat griddle until crisp. Set bacon aside on a paper towel to drain. Wipe down griddle, leaving a small amount of bacon drippings to add flavor to the burgers. Spread onions over griddle in approximately the same shape as the patties. Place formed patties over the onions and press down slightly to encase onions into the burgers. Grill burgers over medium heat until cooked to your liking, about medium, turning mid-way through.
Remove burgers from griddle, top with sliced cheese. Tent loosely (so as to NOT touch the sliced cheese) and hold in a warm oven. Wipe down griddle.
Butter four slices of sourdough bread. Place on griddle, butter side down. Spread Thousand Island Dressing on bread while it is grilling. Place burgers on bread, cheese side up, and top each burger two slices of bacon. Spread Thousand Island Dressing on remaining four sourdough bread slices. Place sourdough bread, Dressing side down on top of burgers. When bottom bread is grilled to a golden brown, flip burgers and continue to grill bread.
Serve with lettuce, tomato and pickle chips on the side if desired.
Naturally, these Sourdough Bacon Burgers go well with French Fries or onion rings on the side. And don’t forget to whip up The Ultimate Chocolate Lover’s Chocolate Malt to get that “real” burger joint experience.