“Here’s a dumb thing that grill chefs do,” opens Deadspin writer Chris Thompson's polemic against conventional cheeseburger grilling methods, published last week. “They flip the burgers on the grill, and then, while the burgers finish cooking, the chef lays slices of cheese on the top of the burgers, where presumably the heat of the grill will aid in the melting of the cheese.”
All wrong, Thompson says. This practice relies on a miscalculation—an overestimation, really—of how much heat a slab of cheese requires to melt, ignoring the fact that patties carry vestigial heat that allows cheese to melt just fine when the patties are removed from their heating surfaces. Subjecting your cheese to such aggressive heat makes it look like a thin layer of foil atop a burger, folding onto the burger’s sides. What's more is that he claims it leads to a terribly dirty grill, strewn with shreds of dairy.
Thompson also cautions against heaping the burger’s accoutrements, produce, and condiments. This, he claims, guarantees you'll mutate the cheeseburger into “a slick, sliding mess” where cheese is, once again, the casualty, cruelly pushed aside.
And there you go. It’s a surefire way, Thompson says, of making sure that the cheese melts and stays to the top of the bun so that it’s spread out evenly across the burger’s perimeter. That way, every bite is soaked with pleasure.
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Thompson’s irreverent article—a mere blog post on the internet!—certainly struck a nerve: Just take a look at the comments section, where he’s pilloried for expressing an opinion and presenting it as fact. Our friends at the Today Showdevoted a whole segment to the issue wherein they expressed bewilderment over Thompson’s methods, echoing popular opinion. When the Today Show polled its viewership on Twitter, consensus overwhelmingly skewed towards putting cheese on the burger while it’s still on the grill.
Help us with an upcoming Trending segment.
When making a cheeseburger, do you add the cheese while on the grill or after grilling?
Quite the contrarian stance, Mr. Thompson. I’ve got no real horse in this race, so I’d like to know: Do you find his method all that radical? When’s the best time to put cheese on a cheeseburger? Please let me know. Vote in our poll. We'd like to hear from you.
When’s the best time to put cheese on a cheeseburger? 🍔
Mayukh Sen is a James Beard Award-winning food and culture writer in New York. His writing has appeared in the New York Times, the New Yorker, Bon Appetit, and elsewhere. He won a 2018 James Beard Award in Journalism for his profile of Princess Pamela published on Food52.