Food by VICE

How to Make the Patty Melt That's Better Than Most Hamburgers

We’ve got to stop thinking of the patty melt as the cheeseburger’s sad, distant relative, and start seeing it for what it is: a seriously kickass sandwich.

by Munchies Staff
Oct 20 2016, 6:00pm

In our cooking series Quickies, we invite chefs, bartenders, and other personalities in the world of food and drink who are serious hustlers to share their tips and tricks for preparing quick, creative after-work meals. Every dish featured in Quickies takes under 30 minutes to make, but without sacrificing any deliciousness—these are tried-and-tested recipes for the super-busy who also happen to have impeccable taste.

It's time we reconsider the patty melt. For too long, it's been underestimated and misunderstood. We've got to stop thinking of the patty melt as the cheeseburger's sad, distant relative, and start seeing it for what it is: a seriously kickass sandwich.

To help us get over our deep-seated disinterest, we called in a professional—Chris Kronner of Kronnerburger, a slice of burger heaven in Oakland, California. As a patty melt enthusiast, Kronner knows how often the sandwich gets bastardized. "The patty melts that get a bad rap are sad grilled cheeses with sadder, cooked-to-death frozen burger patties trapped inside of them."


Photos by Farideh Sadeghin

Kronner, a self-proclaimed "burger minimalist/patty melt maximalist," knows that the key here is decent quality ingredients and killer toppings—we're talking melty cheese, confit onions, béchamel, and spicy mustard.


To get started, Kronner throws some onion into a pot with melted butter, giving them at least a half-hour to caramelize.


Then it's on to the meat of the sandwich—in this case, dry-aged California beef. Kronner bypasses the meat grinder and hand-cuts the beef, first making sure it's nice and cold to avoid smearing the fat.


On choosing your cut, Kronner explains, "For the hand-cut patties, look for decent intramuscular marbling or a significant fat cap. Chuck is the best all-around less expensive cut for patties—it has the best fat content generally."


You really, really don't want to skip the béchamel. It's less complicated than it tastes, and really just requires a bit of whisking and some time to thicken up.


As for the bread—Kronner slices up thick pieces of levain bread, but anything a little funky and sourdough-y should do the trick.


Hot mustard is an important component here. You're gonna need something to cut through that rich beef and thick-ass béchamel sauce, and a swipe of spicy mustard does just that.


By now, the onions are browned, buttery, and perfectly sweet.


Kronner pops these bad boys under the broiler for some pre-assembly melting action.


Drippy béchamel is next-level creamy, rich, and life-affirming.


There you have it: a patty melt that defies all expectations. The best company to share this sandwich with? "A pickle and a hangover."

RECIPE: Patty Melt