I went to school at the Unversity of Colorado. The mascot there was a buffalo, and before each of “our” football games a group of way-too-serious cowboys would herd this old, tired, female bison out around the field in a show of school spirit. Everyone in the stands would go crazy for “Ralphie”.
Oh, Ralphie. Poor girl. I know she was treated right, but every time she sullenly waddled past the 50-yard-line my stomach would turn – ever so slightly – with a bit of angst.
Ok, no… not really. That poke in my stomach was probably hunger, not pity. What can I say – that bison just looked so damned delicious prancing around out there. Hence, the Ralphie Burger. I do, however, affectionately think of Ralphie every time I slap these puppies into my cast-iron skillet. They’re seasoned-up juuuuust enough, but not so much that the ‘ole gal would be offended. I top Ralphie off with a few caramelized onions, a slice of tomato, a little mild jack, some avocado, and plenty of good mustard. Gorgeous mascot. Was then, is now.
(A cast iron skillet? Yes! A cast iron skillet. I know burgers are made for the grill, but a hot skillet imparts an even, crispy, caramelized crust that is near impossible to achieve over a flame.)
The Ralphie Burger
Makes 4 burgers
- 1 pound ground bison
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
- 1 spoonful ketchup
- 3-4 squirts Worcestershire sauce
- 1 big pinch salt
- 5-6 grinds of black pepper
- 1 small pinch red pepper flake
- olive oil
- 1 small pat of butter
- 4 small whole wheat hamburger buns, challah rolls, or whole wheat dinner rolls
- 4 thick slices Monterey Jack cheese
- 1 medium heirloom tomato, thickly sliced
- 1 avocado, sliced
- 1 small, sweet onion, halved and thinly sliced
- Some good mustard
- For the caramelized onions, heat a glug of olive oil and the pat of butter in a small saute pan over medium-low heat. Add the sliced onions and cook, stirring occasionally, for 15-20 minutes, until brown and sticky-yummy.
- Meanwhile, in a medium mixing bowl, combine the bison, garlic, ketchup, Worcestershire, salt, pepper, pepper flakes, and a glug of olive oil. Use your hands! Only mix enough to incorporate the ingredients – don’t get angry at that beautiful buffalo meat!
- Form the mixture into 4 burgers, each about four inches in diameter.
- Heat a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat and add enough olive oil to coat the bottom of the pan. Place the burgers in the skillet, and cook on each side ~4 minutes, for medium. For melted cheese, add a slice atop each burger as soon as you flip them over.
- Serve with the sliced tomato, avocado, caramelized onions, and mustard.
*Don’t move the burgers around once you add them to the skillet… Just let them be. Moving the burgers to a new spot in the pan will only prevent them from forming a crust. Crusts are good.
Jakob Wagner’s Aerial Photography