The Molten Core

Posted July 23, 2009 @ 10:48am | by Mark Williams

Welders looking for the ultimate burger need to turn their attention to the "Molten-Core." Here's how you can make the best-burger I've had in a while, the so-called "Jucy-Lucy" in your own backyard. Be careful, though, that cheese is 'effing hot.

One of the benefits of traveling with our field sales reps is the chance to sample out cuisine from the great burger joints across America. During my last visit to Minneapolis, my rep brought me to a South Minneapolis neighborhood bar who lays claim to a cheese-filled burger called the Jucy-Lucy. Jucy Lucys (yes it's spelled right) are South Minneapolis's contribution to world cuisine, made by crimping two beef patties together around a hunk of cheese and grilling until the cheese melts.

For those not familar, I present from this lovely written piece in the 1998 City Pages, a Minneapolis Alt-weekly paper, by award winning food critic Dara Moskowitz:


Served on a white, seed-free bun and usually topped with onions, grilled or raw, and a slice or two of pickle, the Juicy Lucy works on a couple of levels. First, it keeps the meat inside near the cheese very moist. Second, keeping the cheese apart from the bread makes for a pleasant separation of meat and bread tastes and textures. Last but not least, the Juicy Lucy effectively separates members of the tribe from outsiders: Those in the know bide their time and wait for the cheese to cool, while rubes, hicks, New Yorkers, and other social misfits scald their tongues on the excruciatingly hot mixture of grease and cheese that pools inside the burger, poised to escape through any opening.


It's probably sacrilegious to share that I have suffered the indignity of a 3rd degree facial burn when eating one. While there are a couple of ways to avoid the burn --  the dreaded "french fry poke" or just patience, there is only one way to avoid a dreaded blowout--a tight crimp. (When the cheese escapes.)  A blowout at Matt's is a big deal and will result in the destruction of the burger. You can't have cheese mucking up the grill, ya know. That said, the key to successful execution of this recipe is the "cheese" stack, which is the process of stacking the cheese in a small pile atop one patty before sealing. This helps facilitate the best patty-on-patty action and helps the burger-maker attain a tight seal.


Here's how you can replicate the Jucy Lucy at home:

1 1/2 pounds ground chuck (No leaner than 80%)

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

3/4 teaspoon garlic salt

1 teaspoon black pepper

4 slices American cheese (You can go all highbrow - but beware, it's not the same)

4 buns - Nothing fancy, no seeds.

Your favorite condiments and toppings - I like raw onion, pickles, ketchup and yellow mustard


1. Place beef, Worcestershire sauce, garlic salt, and pepper in a bowl; mix well. Portion into eight even units. Shape each portion into a thin round patty that's slightly larger than the cheese slice.

2. Fold cheese slices in half twice so you have a little stack of quartered cheese slices. Place a folded cheese stack on 4 of the patties, covering cheese with remaining 4 patties.

3. Tightly crimp the edges of the patties together to form a tight seal. No seriously, make tight seal. As the cheese melts, it creates steam and tries to find its way out.

4. Preheat a cast-iron skillet or heavy-bottomed pan to medium heat (or fire up a medium-hot bed of coals on your backyard grill), and cook burgers over heat 3 to 4 minutes on first side. Burger may puff up due to steam from melting cheese. This is normal.

6. Flip, and using toothpick, prick top of burger to allow for steam to escape. Allow burger to cook 3 to 4 minutes on this side.

7. Remove patties from pan or grill. Bun 'em up.  Slap some condiments on and dig in.

When indulging in a Jucy Lucy in Minneapolis, I like to pair my burger with High-Life, a Grain Belt or maybe even a PBR. At home in the backyard, the choice is yours. Mix in some grilled potato wedges, a can of baked beans, and some Rip-L Chips and you're set.


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