We Love Cheeseburgers… That’s Good, Right?
The gold standard for American fast food is a juicy cheeseburger, fries, and a soft drink. Almost every restaurant and fast food establishment can make their own for you, and they all are different in terms of quality: from how the meat is cooked, the type of cheese used, the buns holding it all together, and how crispy the fries will be, along with whichever drink will quench your thirst of course.
Delicious! How could we not love cheeseburgers and fries so much? Just looking at an image of one makes your mouth water.
And it’s good for you, right?
After all, there is ample protein, carbohydrates, some vegetables, and some more carbs that are just crispier! How could it not be? Even 82% of Americans think that cheeseburgers are good for your health, as reported by Time.
Unfortunately, cheeseburgers and fries at most restaurants and fast food joints are not good for you. In fact, far from it, especially if you get it through a driveway.
Most meats are going to be low quality, filled with preservatives and excess amounts of sodium, cooked in canola or vegetable oils which are cheap but very inflammatory, and the fries so salty that you will need to down it with a soft drink, the sugars and syrups of which should also be avoided if you want to feel great and live problem free in the future.
That is not even including where they are getting their lettuce, tomatoes, and potatoes from, which are generally going to be sprayed with pesticides and other chemicals that are harmful for our bodies. Why? Because it’s cheaper and allows for mass production and distribution.
But I love cheeseburgers, you say, as do we all. Is there another option?
Thankfully, there is: introducing, the baked cheeseburger and fries, Make Your Meals Epic style.
The New Standard: Baked Cheeseburger and Fries
So imagine taking most, if not all, of the negative aspects out of cheeseburgers and fries. How do you do that?
Make it at home! With your own ingredients, you can make it as healthy as you would like.
But wait, it won’t taste as good as it does at a restaurant. And you’re right: it will taste better, because we are going to bake it!
For a healthy and juicy baked cheeseburger, we suggest going to your local farmer’s market (if you have one nearby) and picking up your meat locally. Strive for ground meat that is minimally processed, humanely treated, and not pumped full of antibiotics. You can find this at a local grocery store, but it tends to be more expensive. And the fat content of the meat is up to you! Don’t skip out on the fat entirely though, for it will make your baked cheeseburger more flavorful and scrumptious.
As for potatoes, if you can get them locally and ensure that they are not sprayed with pesticides, then any kind of potato will serve nicely with a baked cheeseburger. Russets are a gold standard, as they tend to absorb not too much oil and can get really crispy!
For cheese and vegetables, again a farmer’s market will be a superior choice compared to a grocery store selection. Regardless, strive for vegetables not sprayed with any pesticides.
As for cheese, it really depends on the overall flavor you would like for your baked cheeseburger. Want buttery? Go with gouda. Mild and creamy? Cheddar of course. It really comes down to your preference and how you want to slice it!
Lastly, hamburger buns. This comes down to personal preference and health goals. If you are wanting the best quality buns that are not packed full of sugars and sodium and refined flour, then go for a local baker’s sourdough, sprouted grain, or 100% whole wheat buns. Most of these bread types you can find in the form of a bun, but even if you can’t, it will prove far better for your gut health and inflammation.
Cooking and Consistency
Starting first with the baked cheeseburger, our goal is to not have the cheeseburger too mushy or hard as a rock. First, mix any dry ingredients you would like to have in the ground meat like salt. Dry ingredients are cheap, but feel free to spice it up with fresh garlic and diced onions for extra flavor!
After all is mixed into the ground meat, now it is time to marinate the meat! This is probably the most important part, for it will bring a lot of juiciness and flavor to the baked cheeseburger. Melting some grass fed butter in a mixing bowl with the ground meat is preferred, but the more fat that is in the meat, the less butter you will need. If not butter, you can mix it in with some other sauces like balsamic vinegar, low sodium soy sauce, and Worcestershire sauce for flavor.
The important thing is to not add too much butter or sauce, but just enough to crispen the burger. To marinate, let it sit for around 30 minutes.
Now, after rolling and making the marinated/seasoned patties, place it in a sheet of tinfoil. For cheese, you can mix your cheese with the meat ahead of time, or you can simply add a couple of slices on the meat to be wrapped in the tinfoil (tastes better that way).
For making the meat just right, we will need to have the right temperature. 350 degrees Fahrenheit will do the trick, for at least 20 minutes (or until desired bloodiness of the meat is met). If you want the patty crisp on top, then put the oven to 400 degrees broil at the end for 2 minutes or less.
Finally, fries have two options: either use an air fryer, which is the best in our opinion, but if you bake, use a tiny bit of cornstarch sprinkled on the fry cuts and bake at 400 degrees. Think of which restaurant you like the best for the thickness of the fries.
If you are wanting a softer fry, just bake slightly and use a little salt (don’t put oil on it). Of course, to bake it crispier you can dress the potato cuts with some olive oil and salt. Make the cuts as thick as you want, and even exchange the russet for sweet potato and cinnamon sprinkled on top if you are wanting to change it up a bit!
While the fries are baking, throw in those buns and get them as toasty as you’d like.
And there you go! A healthier baked cheeseburger and fries alternative to the fast food inflammatory cheeseburgers we are used to eating. Try it out and let us know your favorite recipe!
We are always producing more epic recipes for you every month, so stay tuned for more at Make Your Meals Epic!