Minnesotans proudly claim that the Jucy Lucy was invented here in the North Star State. But the exact location of this unique burger's inception is up for debate, leaving many supporting one of two iconic establishments. Fans of the 5-8 Club and Matt's Bar, both in Minneapolis, have been locked in a battle for years over whose burger is the best. Even the spelling of the name—"Jucy" or “Juicy"—is up for debate. I find myself in the Matt's Bar camp, so we'll be going with "Jucy" here.
The Jucy Lucy is so special because of its ingenious simplicity. It's just molten hot American cheese stuffed inside two thin burger patties and griddled to perfection. The version I made here differs from the original by using venison and bacon in the burger mix to add extra flavor and fat.
Toast the buns in butter, pour on some fried onions, add a few pickle slices, and you've got one of the best burgers money can buy. Just make sure to have a cold beer ready for when you take that first bite.
- 2 lbs. ground venison
- ½ lb. thick-cut bacon
- 2 large yellow onions, minced
- 6 slices American cheese
- Burger buns, sliced
- Sliced pickles, butter or dill
- 1 stick unsalted butter
- Coarse salt
Also works with
After chilling the grinder and meat, grind both the venison and thick-cut bacon through a coarse plate. Pass it back through a fine plate. Mix the meat by hand to incorporate the bacon fat into the venison. Roll the meat into 3-ounce balls. Between sheets of parchment paper, one at a time press the balls into evenly round ¼-inch-thick patties. They'll be a little less than 5 inches wide. The best way I've found to do press patties is with the bottom of a small plate.
Fold the pieces of quality American cheese into a quarter of their original size. Place the stack of cheese into the center of one patty. Add the second patty to the top. Pinch the edges of the two patties together by working slowly around the burger. Make sure there are no holes.
Dice the onion as finely as you can. Set aside. Get the burger buns sliced and ready. Open one end of the butter stick. You’ll use this to grease the pans.
Over medium heat, butter a cast iron pan liberally and toast both sides of both the bottom and top of the buns until nicely browned. Set aside.
Butter the pan again. Season both sides of the burgers with coarse salt. Add the burgers to the pan, making sure to leave space between them. You may end up cooking all six in multiple batches or can use two pans at once. Cook each side for 3-4 minutes. Do not move them around and only flip once. You're looking for these to be just cooked through with only a hint of pink.
Remove the burgers, turn the pan to high, and immediately add the onions. Cook them for about one minute, stirring occasionally. To assemble the Jucy Lucy burgers, start with pickles, add the burgers, and spread on a liberal amount of fried onions on top. No sauce is needed.