Cast Iron

Painted Doll Burger

July  1, 2014
1 Ratings
  • Prep time 25 minutes
  • Cook time 40 minutes
  • Makes 4 large burgers
Author Notes

The Original Painted Doll was the name of a barbecue joint in the Englewood neighborhood of Chicago back in my post-college years. They turned out some delicious ribs and such, but for me their piece de resistance was what they called a “Barbecue Burger.” It was huge – almost impossible to get your mouth around – and mysteriously delicious. We could never quite figure out what all was in it. But we knew it wasn’t all beef, if any. Years went by, the Original Painted Doll moved way south, too far to go for a burger, but the flavors have continued to haunt me. So a couple of years ago, I set out to recreate the burger. This is what I came up with. It comes pretty darn close, I must say. —ChefJune

What You'll Need
  • Seasoning Blend
  • 2 whole bay leaves
  • 1 tablespoon coarse sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon whole cumin seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • Burgers
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped red onion
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped celery
  • 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 1/2 pound 85% lean ground beef
  • 2 teaspoons seasoning blend
  • Olive oil for the cooking pan
  • A couple of tablespoons of your best barbecue sauce
  1. Seasoning Blend
  2. Break up the bay leaves into small pieces. Process them in a spice grinder until they are all ground up. Add the sea salt and cumin seeds and process until ground fine. Add all the peppers and the nutmeg and blend well in a shaker jar.
  3. You will use two teaspoons of this mixture in your burgers.
  1. Burgers
  2. Heat oven to 350 degrees, F.
  3. Heat a small skillet and add the olive oil. Sauté the onion and celery until they are soft and fragrant. Remove from heat and cool.
  4. Using your hands, mix the meat, vegetables and seasoning together. Divide the mixture into four patties. Actually, these will be more like balls – very thick!
  5. Heat a cast iron skillet or other heavy sauté pan. When it’s very hot, put a dab of butter in the pan to keep the burgers from sticking. Sear the burgers well on both sides, then coat them with the barbecue sauce and put into the preheated oven to finish cooking through for about 12 minutes.
  6. Allow the burgers to rest for about 8 minutes before serving on burger buns (homemade if you can). Serve with additional barbecue sauce.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Ron Williams
    Ron Williams
  • Sheila Ligon
    Sheila Ligon
  • ChefJune
  • Lyle Morris
    Lyle Morris
30+ years a chef, educator, writer, consultant, "winie," travel guide/coordinator

20 Reviews

Kahosorrell December 31, 2021
Greetings, I’m Kellie Sorrell, the daughter of Wade Sorrell, who took over the Painted Doll in the 60’s and who Ali g with my mother moved it to 105 and Halsted. It’s great to see so many people who have such wonderful memories of our food. Thank you for sharing it.
And ChefJune, thank you for your hard work. I’m sure your burger is great but it is so far off from the original. And yes as Ron W said, the sauce is what made it what it was.

Thank you all for these memories.
Ron W. August 6, 2021
I grew up directly across the street from the Painted Doll. My father owned the bar across the street, The Crows Nest. Mr. George was the name of the Louisiana gentleman that owned the Painted Doll. I grew up eating those burgers. In the 60s they were 46 cents and you got a lot of fries too. You may have figured out the burger but you're only halfway there, the sauce was the secret. When I saw this recipe it brought back so many memories. I have never before or since tasted a burger or sauce that was better than the Painted Doll. People would come from as far away as Gary, Indiana to get some PD Que. Thanks for the memories.
Ron W. August 6, 2021
Wow, I just noticed I wrote something like this back in April. Oh, well.
Teacher50 June 25, 2021
I remember my dad bringing home these delicious burgers wow I would I do to get one in my hands now we lived on the south side of Chicago
Ron W. April 12, 2021
I grew up directly across the street from the Painted Doll on 60th & Halsted in the early '60s. I also grew up on these burgers. Back in 1961, they were $.46 cents and you got fries. The sauce was the Painted Doll's claim to fame.
Karen October 29, 2017
I remember this place well. My dad used to treat us The Painted Doll all the time. I loved the sauce with our fries soaked in the sauce. Englewood is not the same anymore, but memories will last forever. Painted Doll was a gem in Englewood.
Gwen December 8, 2016
WOW! I was seating here with my Mom at the bank abs suddenly she said she wanted a Burger. I asked my mom did she remember bringing those Burgers home. She said Yes. I instantly thought of Painted Doll and the infamous Burgers. I searched for the recipe and here I found this. Thanks for trying to re-create the Burger! This weekend I will be eating Painted Doll Burgers.
DiMarie T. August 16, 2016
My Sisters Husband Knew The Owner Joe who was Murdered in his home Christmas Eve after Closing for The Night.

He told my brother in law that they used ground Chitterlings and Juice from Chitterlings, Ground Pork Sausage and Beef..Bay Leafs Also.

The Sauce help perfected the taste. My Sister Got it Down Pack!!
ChefJune August 16, 2016
Chtt'lin's!!! Who'd'a thunk?
James M. August 17, 2016
Wow! I never knew that happened to Joe!! I had an unfortunate introduction to him when I was 13, I borrowed my cousin's car and accidentally ran into his Chevy Suburban in front of the restaurant. He never pressed charges, and I thank him today for that! I found out later, He was a great guy!
James M. August 17, 2016
I turned 50 August 13th
ShadowcatNow December 5, 2019
I loved that burger! DiMarie T, please help us with the sauce recipe, your sister has down pat. I agree with you about dipping the fries in the sauce. The sauce was amazing!
Lyle M. March 19, 2020
Hello all, I live on the south side of Chicago and we had the pleasure of Painted Doll on 105th and halstead, I guess after they moved from Englewood. Yes those burgers were unique; loved them. All to say, DiMarie, would you be willing to share the recipe for the burger and especially the sauce?
Ron W. August 6, 2021
Yeah, I knew Joe too. Joe was the cooker for Mr. George. When Mr. George retired he sold the business to his nephew who kept Joe on. Then the nephew moved the restaurant way out South but sold the one on 60th & Halsted to Joe. My father who used to fish a lot would sell some of his catch to Joe.
Sheila L. April 17, 2016
I've lived in Englewood for over 40 years and I loved painted doll's burgers. It was such an unique taste. I was a teenager then and I thought they would be there forever. I still remember the people who worked there. I hoped this recipe evokes those memories.
ChefJune April 18, 2016
I hope they do, too. The Painted Doll moved out to 105th & Halsted, but I understand that place has closed, too.
Barbara March 24, 2016
My dad treated us to painted doll ribs and burgers every weekend when I was growing up in Chicago. I look forward to trying this recipe soon.
ChefJune March 24, 2016
Wow! I hope you like them.
James M. September 20, 2015
Wow! Thanks for that recipe ChefJune, I grew up a few blocks from The Painted Doll, and remember them well! My family loved their food, and frequently visited there. I'll be using this recipe at my next barbeque!
Thanks Sooo Much!!
ChefJune September 20, 2015
Wow! I never expected to see this kind of comment on food52. I sure hope it evokes the same memories for you that it does for me. Make sure that you make them really thick through, and that you give them enough time to cook.