Cheeseburgers AND Salt and Pepper Bakes

2016-02-02 18.02.19RECIPE #189, DAY #221

ORIGINAL RECIPE: None, just my husband’s burger preferences*

TIMING: 5-10 minutes for the burgers, 45 minutes for the bakes

DIFFICULTY: Pretty easy

TOOLS: A cast iron skillet and a sheet pan

COOK TYPE: Grill, campfire, or stovetop for the burgers. Oven for the bakes

HEALTH: My daughter has been charged by her Girl Scout troop to record her diet for a health badge. I keep helping her to edit what she writes on there, and this meal is a perfect example of why. Saying that we ate “Cheeseburgers and Fries” on Tuesday night is extremely misleading. Immediately, I can see her troop leader emblazoning that meal with an “F” and a lecture, because most people mean a certain thing when they say “Burgers and Fries” or even “Spaghetti” or “Chicken Noodle Soup” or whatever. But when I feed my kids cheeseburgers and fries, I have given them a fun and healthy dinner. First off, we edited the fries on her chart to “roasted potatoes,” because, essentially, that’s what my homemade “fries” are. Then her burger? It’s conscientious meat in moderation (in a diet that is not too heavy on the red meat), a whole grain bun, and loaded with veggies. Her ketchup is low-sugar and natural. Everything is home salted=less salted. Nothing is actually fried. (Not saying I never fry, just making the point that not all food is created equal.)

2016-02-02 18.02.06EXPERIENCE: I was asking around last week what requests people had for the next week’s menu, and my daughter only said, “cheeseburgers.” So I bough the ground meat, lettuce, tomato, cheese, and buns, and whipped this meal up for her. I have to admit that I have not been in the mood for burgers for a long time, but if I was going to have a burger, it would be loaded and pink and juicy. Like this one.

The only thing we were missing were the pickles.

NOTES: I make my burgers based on the request of my husband many years ago not to add anything to the meat except salt and pepper. It is easiest, and it is tasty.

I cook my burgers to medium-rare. I suggest you do the same, but only if you have confidence in the sourcing of your meat.

I call my oven fries “bakes,” because I feel like they should be called “fries.” Perhaps I should call them “oven fries.” They are a great home version of a French fry.



  1. Preheat a cast iron pan to medium-medium high heat.
  2. Take 1 pound ground beef (with a good amount of fat content) and gently break it in to 4 equal chunks. Gently roll each piece into a ball and flatten into a patty that is much too large for your buns. Carefully salt and pepper both sides.
  3. When the pan is hot, place burger patties in the pan so that they do not crowd. (You may need to do this in batches.) Cook on first side until burger has been caramelized, but is still red across the top. Remove carefully from the pan with a thin spatula and flip over. Place 1 slice cheddar cheese on top and cover pan with a domed lid (make-shift will be fine). Cook until cheese has melted and burger is done to your liking. Remove from pan.
  4. Repeat until your burgers are done, and serve right away.



  1. Preheat oven to 425F.
  2. On a sheet pan, place 5 peeled and french-fry cut potatoes with a drizzle of safflower oil and a hefty sprinkling of salt and ground black pepper. Do not skimp on the pepper. Toss to coat.
  3. Bake for 30 minutes or even more, checking frequently and turning over once in awhile by scraping underneath and turning over with a thin, metal spatula. They are done when some of them have browned and they are crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside.

Serve burgers with mayo, ketchup, yellow mustard, sliced onion, sliced tomato, lettuce leaves, and dill pickle rounds, and with the “bakes.”

*Recipe changed from the original.


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