Today’s a great day to break up with your diet. Why? Because LOOK AT THIS PATTY MELT. I’m telling you right now, one bite of this delicious, toasty patty melt will undo any type of toxic dieting culture that has maneuvered into your life. I’m sure of it.
So…why a patty melt? Well, the story started with my first foray into making sourdough bread. I use the term “foray” purposefully because the definition of foray is “a sudden attack or incursion into enemy territory” and that’s exactly how I felt the entire week trying to make a sourdough starter and bread. Don’t worry, a *maybe too long* blog post is coming your way soon. I just need some time to process through the entire adventure.
Anywho, I had my first loaf of sourdough bread, and it tasted…fine. Not the best. I obviously didn’t want to waste it (since I hate wasting food), so I settled on making patty melts for dinner. Which then, of course, turned into a recipe development experience. I mean, what doesn’t these days?
What makes a patty melt different from a burger?
Want to know a funny thing about the hamburger’s history? Technically, a patty melt is a much closer example of the original hamburger than the hamburger we know today. Why? Because hamburgers were originally served between two slices of toast!
It’s true. To my amusement, the United States Library of Congress credits a restaurant in New Haven, Connecticut (my home state!) to be the birthplace of the original hamburger. Louis Lassen, from Louis’ Lunch, created a sandwich made of ground meat (apparently a blend of five different kinds of meat) between two slices of toast. If you want to read into the incredibly controversial history of the hamburger, Food + Wine has an excellent breakdown.
Wikipedia even recognizes the fact that the hamburger’s original “roots” means serving it on slices of toast. Yet while the patty melt is a closer representation of the original hamburger in terms of looks, what’s served on it is unique in its own way. It’s like saying a slice of New York thin slice is the same as Chicago deep dish. Sure, they’re both pizzas, but they’re uniquely different.
The patty melt is typically served with cheddar cheese, Swiss cheese, and caramelized onions between two slices of rye bread. It’s toasted up in a frying pan with, you guessed, a lot of butter.
So while a burger can be versatile with all kinds of toppings (and apparently meat blends), the patty melt is typically served the same way. But that doesn’t mean we can’t have some variety.
My twist to the traditional patty melt
As you already know, I used sourdough bread instead of rye for this patty melt recipe. Rye does give the patty melt a distinct taste, but it still tasted delicious on a sourdough. So I’m going to say sourdough in the recipe, but if you’re looking for a traditional patty melt, grab a loaf of rye.
Also…don’t be mad. I skipped using cheddar cheese. You see that ooey, gooey cheese in the photo? Yeah, that’s Velveeta.
I know some of you may scream and run at the sound of Velveeta, but hear me out. Did you know Louis’ Lunch taste-tested multiple variations of cheeses to make their first cheeseburger and decided that the best cheese to serve on the burger was Cheez-Wiz? I know you’re not going to believe me, so you can listen to this podcast episode by America’s Test Kitchen. They’ll convince you.
If Louis’ Lunch—the government solidified inventor of the hamburger—decides that the best way to make a cheeseburger is by using Cheez Whiz, then I’m using Velveeta in my patty melt recipe.
So, here it is. Feel free to rant in the comments section below about my terrible (excellent?) cheese choices. But just remember…it’s my blog, and I’ll Velveeta if I want to.
Patty Melt Recipe
- 1 yellow onion sliced thin
- 1 lb ground beef
- 4 slices Velveeta
- 4 slices Swiss cheese
- 8 slices sourdough bread
- 1/4 cup mayonnaise
- 2 Tbsp butter
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp pepper
- Heat up a small pan or skillet over medium-low heat. Melt 1 tablespoon of butter, then add the sliced yellow onion. Turn the heat down on low and cook the onions, stirring continuously. This will carmelize them (instead of frying them). Cook for 30 minutes.
- During your quick stir breaks, split the ground beef into four and shape hamburger patties. Season both sides with the salt and pepper.
- When the onions are finished, warm a cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Once hot, melt the other 1 tablespoon of butter and add the burger patties. Cook on each side for 5 minutes, then remove to a plate.
- For each sandwich, add a slice of Swiss, the burger patty, a slice of Velveeta, then some caramelized onions to a slice of bread. Top the sandwich another slice, then spread some mayonnaise on that slice.
- Drain the grease from the burgers into a can. Heat the skillet back up and place the sandwich on the skillet, mayonnaise side down. Spread mayonnaise on the top slice. Press the sandwich down with a spatula occasionally while cooking to flatten it out.
- Flip the sandwich after 3 or 4 minutes, or until the bread is nice and toasty. When the cheese has melted and the bread is toasted, remove to a plate and serve.