Tuesday, January 13, 2009
Hometown Patty Melts
Do you live in your hometown? By that, I mean the town of your birth? Small town? Big city? Open countryside? I spent the first 24 years of my life in the same town, my hometown, the town of my birth. After we graduated from college, hubbyman and I headed out to the Pacific Northwest eager to create a good life for ourselves all by ourselves. We were young, in love, and full of modern day pioneer spirit.
That was 22 years ago, and I’d say that we succeeded in our plans. We’ve lived 20 of those years in this house and this is the only home my children know. It is located in their hometown; the town of their births. It’s a big town, but a good one. Over the years, we’ve talked about moving – to a different house or a different state. My hubbyman is always the one to bring it up and he always brings up the same location ... southern Utah. He craves wide open spaces; however, we don’t want to uproot our children unless the advantages of moving far outweigh anything we’ve already got. We have always remained here, in our house, and have created many wonderful memories herein. Utah remains one of our favorite vacation spots, so he gets his outdoors Utah fix that way.
The other day, to no surprise, hubbyman brings up moving again. I tend to simply smile and nod, having lived through this conversation before. Now before you start thinking that my man is miserable because we’ve never moved, just brush that thought aside. If he really wanted to, we'd have moved long ago. ANYWAY ... so he starts the conversation the same as he always has. However, this time, he totally catches me by surprise. He doesn’t mention Utah. He mentions moving HOME. That word – home – refers to Indiana, the home of our respective hometowns, with streets, sidewalks, parades and parks we walked upon with younger legs. The state I met, fell in love with, and married my hubbyman. Where my dad lives, near where my sister lives, and close to all of hubbyman’s relatives. HOME.
Oh, that word is a powerful one. Will we actually move? Probably not. After all, where we live now is home to my children. But, oh, the thought of it. I’ve spent the last couple of days reminiscing about home. Small towns. Hot, humid summers. Lightning bugs. Acre upon acre of corn. Family. Gallons of iced tea. White Christmas’ every year. And sun. Lots and lots of sun. For days now, I’ve enjoyed my mental trip down memory lane.
Another memory I associate with home is eating Patty Melts. When we were dating, my hubbyman and I would meet for lunch at a local restaurant, and we always ordered the same thing. I would get the French Dip, and hubbyman would get a Patty Melt.
What’s a patty melt? Well, it’s a wonderful hamburger sandwich. On bread, you layer a hamburger patty, Swiss cheese, cheddar cheese, and grilled onions. Oh, and the bread should be both buttered and slathered with mayo ... and then grilled itself before you start the layering process. Take a walk with me down memory lane as we make a Hometown Patty Melt.
Hamburger patty – cooked the way you like it.
Thick slices of bread – you need something hearty. I used a ciabatta roll. Texas toast would work great. Rye bread would be outstanding, too.
¼ cup water
Additional 1/4 cup water
One onion sliced in ½ rounds
Here’s how I made it. I opted to pan fry the burgers ... usually I grill them, but I wanted some fond in the fan for when I sauteed/pan fried the onions. These aren’t caramelized onions. You’ll see what I mean in just a minute.
Season your ground beef to your own taste. I used that wonder of wonders called Montreal Steak Seasoning. Form kind of thick patties. Heat a skillet over fairly high heat.Place the burger patties in the pan, but don’t crowd them. Immediately turn the heat down to medium. Cook for about 5 minutes. Flip and cook on the other side for about 5 more minutes. Add ¼ cup of water; it should steam up significantly. Place a lid on the skillet, and steam the burgers until cooked through; about 3-4 more minutes. Take the lid off the pan, and remove the burgers to a plate. Cover with foil to keep warm. Boil off any remaining liquid.Add the sliced onions to the pan, and stir fry for a minute or two. Add another ¼ cup of water, and scrape up any fond on the bottom of the pan. Cook until the water has evaporated ... just a minute or two. Push the onions to the side of the pan.Return the burgers to the pan, and place your cheeses on it. Cover for a minute or two until the cheese is melted and gooey. Take your bread, and spread both butter and mayo on one side of each slice.Place spread side down in the pan, and toast it in the pan as much as you want. I went for a light toasting.Now assemble your sandwich and really pile on the sautéed onions. This is a really flavorful, filling, and messy sandwich. Slice in half and serve with something light like fruit or a salad.Hello baby! Don’t fret if some of the onions slide on out. Just snatch the little guys right up and pop them in your waiting mouth! Take a bite. Make yummy noises. Sadly, this version is not gluten free. Although, if you want to eat it steak style, simply serve it without the bread.Ah, one bite of this transported me back home. For any of you who are homesick, or for those of you who still enjoy living in your hometown, whether it’s located in a big metropolis or off of a small country lane, here’s a link to a tune from another Hoosier boy that I listened to way back when I lived in my own small town. This always makes me smile. And dance. Yep, I was dancing in my kitchen and eatin’ my patty melt. Singing with the radio. John Cougar Mellencamp singing “Small Town” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3eDkAG3R0h8