Easy Week Day Dinner: The Patty Melt

I'm sure many of you can relate to the nostalgia of the Patty Melt. This uber-filling dish is a special of diners everywhere, each having their own variations and recipes used for generations. The traditional patty melt is very simple: rye bread, caramelized onions, swiss cheese and a slab of ground beef with conservative seasonings. Since the era of the chrome rail car diners, the recipe has evolved a bit. Many recipes also include sauteed mushrooms, sourdough or white bread, cheddar cheese, sometimes even tomato. Today I looked at the tray of ground beef I took out of the freezer for dinner, and at first I felt somewhat uninspired. I began to rummage through my fridge and pantry to find accompaniments that were simple but flavorful. Then I rememberd the breakfast sandwiches I made on Saturday morning (2 egg omlette folded over with bacon and strawberry jam on wheat toast - awesome by the way, you should try it!), and then it clicked, "A Patty Melt!"

My version of the patty melt isn't completely traditional, but I think it's a good one to share because you can utilize everyday ingredients for some good old-fashioned flavors.

Cara's Easy Patty Melt:

- 1 pound Lean Ground Beef
- 1 medium Onion, halved and sliced
- 6 slices Wheat Bread (you could also use white, rye, or sourdough - whatever you have handy)
- 6 slices Muenster Cheese (swiss, cheddar, provolone could all work here, but try to avoid using american cheese)
- 1 teaspoon Salt
- 1/2 teaspoon Pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon Garlic Powder
- 1 & 1/2 tablespoons Worcestershire Sauce
- 1/4 cup chopped Parsley (dried works also)
- 2 tablespoons Olive Oil
- 2 tablespoons Butter
- Mayonnaise

In a mixing bowl, combine beef, salt, pepper, parsley, garlic powder and worcestershire sauce until incorporated. Split mixture into 3 equal portions. Form patties about a 1/4 - 1/2 inch larger than an average slice of sandwich bread (this will compensate for the shrinkage the burgers will experience, while still filling the surface area of the bread). Be sure to make a indentation in the center of each burger, this will lessen that center hump burgers get when they are cooking. Heat olive oil in frying pan over medium high heat. Cook burgers for 4 minutes on each side. Remove from pan and set aside. Sautee onions in same pan with olive oil and meat drippings until caramelized and transluscent. Doing this will give onions the extra flavor from the pan drippings and give them a beautiful color. Remove from pan and set aside.

Spread each slice of bread with mayonnaise (just enough to thinly cover the bread). Place one slice of cheese over mayo on each piece of bread. Place layer of onions over one side of sandwich, followed with the burger patty on top of the onions. Place other side of bread on top of patty and smush it down a little bit with the palm of your hand. Heat butter in a clean frying pan over medium-low heat. Place sandwich in butter and cook both sides until bread is golden brown and sandwich squishes together more. I prefer toasting the sandwiches one at a time to give myself plenty of space in the frying pan when I flip the sandwich.

Serve with a side of chips or fries and you're set! I used frozen sweet potato fries from the grocery store :)

Go ahead and bring the diner home with this recipe, it will leave you satisfied without the doggie bag!

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