Beef Burger with Herbed Butter Core Caramelized Onions

2009 Jul/Aug

This recipe won the burger category at the Canadian National Barbecue Championship in Whistler, B.C., in the summer of 2003. More than a burger, it is the Atkins equivalent of a jelly donut, if you forego the bun. It’s a life-shaping experience that should probably be accompanied by some kind of parental guidance message. Be careful to whom you serve this; your guests may stalk you until you cook it for them again.


  • 1 1/2 to 2 lbs ground beef (20% fat content)
  • 1/2 t. freshly grated nutmeg
  • 4 1/2-inch disks of frozen herbed butter (recipe follows)
  • 1 T. Dijon mustard
  • Good quality dry rub
  • 4 good, toothsome buns
  • Extra softened herbed butter for the buns
  • Granulated garlic
  • 1/2 c. chèvre at room temp
  • 2 large red bell peppers, roasted, stemmed and de-seeded
  • Caramelized onions (recipe follows)


In a large bowl, combine the beef and nutmeg. Mix lightly, split into 4 portions and roll into balls. Poke a hole in the middle of each one and stuff in a disc of frozen butter. Encase the butter with the meat, forming hamburgers. Make sure there are no “leaking” holes. Coat the burgers with mustard and sprinkle with dry rub. Preheat grill to medium and grease it with some oil. Cook the burgers until they become just firm, about 4 to 5 minutes per side.

Remove the burgers, tent with foil and allow to rest while you coat the buns with softened herb butter, sprinkle with granulated garlic, and toast 30 to 60 seconds on the grill. Dress the burgers with a slather of chèvre, a piece of roasted pepper and caramelized onions. Inhale. Eat. But warn the other burger eaters that there’s a molton “heart” of butter. These are juicy burgers! Serves 4.

Herbed Butter
Whiz in a food processor 1 lb unsalted butter, room temp, cut into chunks, with 4 T. minced Italian parsley, 4 T. minced fresh basil, mint, chervil, rosemary, sage, tarragon, or a combination of fresh herbs, and sea salt to taste. Use the butter immediately on corn-on-the-cob, or roll it into cylinders 1 1/2 inches in diameter, wrap in plastic wrap, and freeze to use later.

Caramelized Onions
In a large skillet, heat 1 T. butter and 1 T. olive oil over medium heat. Add 4 medium onions, sliced, and 1/2 t. salt, and sauté until soft. Add 1 t. sugar, 1/2 t. ground cinnamon and a pinch of cayenne pepper. Continue to sauté, stirring, until the onions are shiny and brown, about 15 minutes, being careful not to burn them. Serve on top of burgers.