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Milk Street Recipe
Milk Street Bowtie Sara Moulton’s Det Burger

Sara Moulton’s Det Burger

By Sara Moulton - Friend of Milk Street

25 minutes 25 minutes active

Sara Moulton’s Det Burger

Free

Two different branches of the Moulton clan have shared an old farmhouse in northeastern Massachusetts for more than 60 years. Traditionally, the whole gang gathers together there several times a year, including on the Fourth of July. Equally traditional is the menu for dinner that evening—baked salmon with a Hollandaise sauce and fresh peas from the back yard. This year we won’t be at the farm, so I thought I’d change up the menu, too. Allow me to introduce you to the Det Burger, a tasty item that does not require a grill (don’t have one in my New York City apartment) with a unique history.

My first professional cooking job was at a bar called the Del Rio in Ann Arbor, where I went to college in the mid-1970s. The Det Burger, the best-loved item on the menu, was invented one slow day by bored cook Bob Detwiler, who proceeded to name it after himself. It was a quarter-pounder topped with canned mushrooms, canned olives, freeze dried green peppers and processed cheese, then steamed in beer—and it was surprisingly delicious! Even so, years later I figured out how to improve it, replacing the original ingredients with fresh mushrooms, Mediterranean olives, green chiles and sharp cheddar cheese. Needless to say, I kept the beer.

Photography by Sara Moulton

1 medium onion
8 1 1/2-inch cremini mushrooms (about 4 ounces)
3 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 4-ounce can sliced, peeled green chiles, drained OR 1 medium poblano, skin charred, cooled, peeled, and finely chopped (removing the seeds, if desired).
⅓ cup pitted brine-cured olives such as kalamata
1 ½ pounds ground beef chuck or round
6 ounces Cheddar cheese, cut into 4 slices
⅓ cup beer
4 hamburger buns, split and toasted
Ingredients
  • 1

    medium onion

  • 8

    1½-inch cremini mushrooms (about 4 ounces)

  • 3

    tablespoons vegetable oil, divided

  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

  • 1

    4-ounce can sliced, peeled green chiles, drained OR 1 medium poblano, skin charred, cooled, peeled, and finely chopped (removing the seeds, if desired).

  • cup pitted brine-cured olives such as kalamata

  • 1 ½

    pounds ground beef chuck or round

  • 6

    ounces Cheddar cheese, cut into 4 slices

  • cup beer

  • 4

    hamburger buns, split and toasted

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Sara Moulton’s Det Burger

Get Ready to Cook

4

Servings

25 minutes

25 minutes active

Ingredients
  • 1

    medium onion

  • 8

    1½-inch cremini mushrooms (about 4 ounces)

  • 3

    tablespoons vegetable oil, divided

  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

  • 1

    4-ounce can sliced, peeled green chiles, drained OR 1 medium poblano, skin charred, cooled, peeled, and finely chopped (removing the seeds, if desired).

  • cup pitted brine-cured olives such as kalamata

  • 1 ½

    pounds ground beef chuck or round

  • 6

    ounces Cheddar cheese, cut into 4 slices

  • cup beer

  • 4

    hamburger buns, split and toasted

Step 1 of 3

Cook Onions

1
medium onion
8
1½-inch cremini mushrooms (about 4 ounces)
1
tablespoon vegetable oil

Cut the onion crosswise into ⅓-inch thick slices. Slice the mushrooms (about 1⅓ cups). Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large skillet over high heat until hot. Reduce the heat to medium; add the onion and cook, 7 minutes or until golden brown on both sides. Transfer the onion slices with a metal spatula to a plate.

Step 2 of 3

Cook Mushrooms

1
tablespoon vegetable oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
cup pitted brine-cured olives such as kalamata
1
4-ounce can sliced, peeled green chiles, drained OR 1 medium poblano, skin charred, cooled, peeled, and finely chopped (removing the seeds, if desired).

Increase the heat to medium-high; add another tablespoon of oil and the mushrooms to the skillet and cook, stirring occasionally, about 4 to 5 minutes or until the mushrooms have browned and the liquid they release has evaporated.


Season the mushroom mixture with salt and pepper to taste and transfer it to a bowl. While the onion and mushrooms are cooking slice the olives. Add the chiles and olives to the mushroom mixture; set aside.

Step 3 of 3

Cook Burgers, Finish and Serve

1 ½
pounds ground beef chuck or round
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1
tablespoon vegetable oil
6
ounces Cheddar cheese, cut into 4 slices
4
hamburger buns, split and toasted

Gently shape the beef into four 4-inch hamburgers; season on both sides with salt and pepper. Heat the remaining tablespoon of oil in the skillet over high heat until hot. Reduce the heat to medium-high, add the burgers and cook 3 minutes.


Turn the burgers over and cook 2 minutes. Top each with one slice of the onion, one quarter of the chile mixture and a slice of cheese. Add the beer to the skillet; cover and steam 2 minutes or until the cheese has melted. Transfer the burgers to the toasted buns and serve.

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Sara Moulton’s Det Burger

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