The Minnesota Juicy Lucy

Two Minneapolis dive bars claim to have invented the Juicy Lucy, the legendary cheese-stuffed burger. 

The tattoos on the back of Tony Stanton’s arm tell a story. There’s a depiction of a hamburger oozing from the center with cheese. And next to that, dollar signs.

“That’s because ‘Jucy Lucy’ pays the bills,” said Stanton, who has manned the grill at south Minneapolis dive Matt’s Bar for a decade.

Stanton flips more than 400 Jucy Lucys in a day for a devoted fan base, who believe Matt’s Bar to be the birthplace of this cheese-stuffed burger.

Three miles down the road, the 5-8 Club has its own set of Juicy Lucy devotees (obviously the spelling of the burger is up for debate). This 70-year-old speakeasy insists it invented this stalwart of Minneapolis bar cuisine.

There’s a war going on in south Minneapolis between two rivals, and the only weapon is an endless dribble of scalding hot cheese. For half a century, these two bars on Cedar Avenue South have claimed to make the original, and best, Juicy Lucy.

“Minnesotans love to go to a dark dive bar and eat something it’s known for, something fun and something that will potentially burn your face,” Thielen said. “There’s an element of risk.”

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds ground beef
  • slices of American cheese
  • Salt and pepper
  • Vegetable oil
  • yellow onion, roughly chopped
  • Sliced pickle chips (bread & butter or dill)
  • soft hamburger buns
  • 1 tablespoon butter
Directions
  1. Separate the burger into 8 pieces and create 1/4-inch thick patties out of each one.
  2. Fold the American cheese slices in half, twice, making a square, and stick into the middle of four of the patties, gently pressing down into the meat
  3. Place the other four patties on top of the patties that have the cheese, pinch to seal the edges, and form into perfect burgers roughly 3/4-inches thick. It’s very important to seal it in! Season the patties liberally with salt and a few cracks of freshly ground black pepper and each side.
  4. Pour a little oil on a cast iron pan and set it over medium-high heat. Once the oil begins to shimmer, gently place in your burgers in the pan. Cook until a hard caramelized crust forms on the bottom of the burger (3-5 minutes), flip, and repeat. Cook for an additional 3-5 minutes, remove from the heat, and set aside to rest.
  5. Add your butter and onions to the pan and cook in the residual oil and beef fat until the onions soften and start to brown (approx. 3-5 minutes). Remove onions from the pan and set aside.
  6. Place your buns down on the pan and lightly toast to warm through (30 seconds-1 minute). Place your burgers on the buns, top with the onions and pickle chips, and enjoy!
  7. :::WARNING::: If you don’t let your burgers rest, you WILL burn your mouth with molten cheese.
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