Stuffed Burgers and European Lagers

Stuffed Burger with the Fixings

Stuffed Burger with the Fixings

One of my many fond memories of Portland, Oregon, was our trip to McMenamin’s Kennedy School, which included a very tasty stout and a burger stuffed with cheese. I had never had such a burger before, so it found its way onto my 101 Things List to see if I could faithfully reproduce it. I’m always up for a new burger challenge (the last being Jamaican Jerk Burgers), so this would be fun!

The next question was what to put inside the burger. Cheese, of course, had to be included. But I also gave a nod to one of my favorite Mexican dishes, Chile Relleno. These are chiles (usually Anaheim I believe) stuffed with cheese, battered, and deep fried. Well there wouldn’t be any deep frying of my burger (perhaps something to try another time) but I did choose a good-looking Poblano chile to blacken, skin, chop, and marry with the cheese. It was at this point that I decided I needed to come up with a good name for my burger. Given it’s slighly Mexican heritage and hidden cheese, I decided to call it the Queso Perdido Burger.

Creating a Stuffed Hamburger

Creating a Stuffed Hamburger

Each burger started life as approximately 0.33 lbs of 80/20 ground beef. I split that into two parts and formed relatively thin patties. One patty is topped with the cheese and chile pieces, and the other is placed on top and pressed down in place around the edges.

Sealing the Stuffed Burgers

Sealing the Stuffed Burgers

I seasoned the outside of the patties with salt, pepper, paprika, and ancho chile powder and grilled for ~7 minutes to create this oozing tribute to beef, cheese, and chile. It turns out these were quite easy to make and very tasty to boot.

Now, what better drink to have with burgers than BEER! It was time for my next round of the World Lager Challenge (which changes name each time I blog about it I’m pretty sure). This time it was European Lagers Excluding Germany. And that meant:

Lagers of Europe

Lagers of Europe

  • Heineken (Holland)
  • Baltika (Russia)
  • Stella Artois (Belgium)
  • Pilsner Urquell (Czech Republic)
  • Czechvar (Czech Republic)

I was fairly sure that Pilsner Urquell would take this one and then be promptly disqualified because, while Pilsner is indeed a lager, it is more heavily hopped and therefore has a stronger flavor profile. It is a different style than the others. However, when the tasting was finished it was not actually my favorite: its bitterness was not particularly welcome and fell short of other pilsners, which I tend to like a lot. Another surprise was Czechvar, which I had high hopes for given that it’s the Czech version of Budweiser. However it came in dead last with tasting notes like “bad”. Heineken was also a shocker, given that I thought it’s mass producedness would land it in the bottom half and it came in second. Stella was “mild, inoffensive” which is a good thing in this group. But the winner was Baltika. Although it was still definitely a lightish lager, it had a great honey sweetness to it that made it pleasing to drink.

Decanted Lagers of Europe

Decanted Lagers of Europe

The final rankings:

  1. Baltika
  2. Heineken
  3. Stella Artois
  4. Pilsner Urquell
  5. Czechvar

That means that Baltika moves on to the next round to face off against Coors, Tecate, and the yet-undiscovered winners from Asia, Germany, and UK/Italy.

Amanda had another good idea that I should include an “American Craft Beers” grouping. For example, I don’t have a Sam Adams on the list and I don’t have a good reason why. Most of the craft brewers do make their own lagers to go up against the Budweisers of the world, so why not add them to the fray? I feel another beer run coming on…

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