Intro: The Heart Stopper
This is my first instructable, but I will attempt to demonstrate my version of a burger more commonly known as "bacon turtle burger". I have renamed it due to one primary concern. While telling people what I had made, the most common response was "where did you buy turtle meat?" ... not cool. Don't get me wrong, I am certainly not above eating turtles, snakes, or other exotic meats. However, I wanted this to be reproduced by anyone who had some spare time and a blatant disregard for their cholesterol levels. Therefore, I gave it a name that more effectively suits the intended purpose. I would say that 2000 calories of beef, bacon, cheese, and bun qualifies for this description.
Step 1: Conception
Since the maiden voyage for this burger was to be on Independence Day, preparation was paramount. Weaving bacon and cutting patterns into hot dogs would have negatively effected my drinking time, so a plan was hatched. I thought that if I could do all the slicing and spicing the night before, the actual assembly process would be brief. I was correct, and my scotch never knew I was gone. I was not sure if, or how, all the components would react if they were in direct contact overnight. With that in mind, I developed a three pronged approach to the birth of my new family tradition.
Step 2: First Trimester
The first thing I did was form the patties using a device that my wife referred to as a "muffin top pan". I'm not sure what it really is, but it was a great alternative to buying a burger press. I weighed a few of the individual patties, and they all came in around 4 to 5 ounces. Keep this in mind while contemplating the age old "bigger is better". A 5 ounce patty looks a little thin to me, but you must remember this is only the beginning. I made twice as many patties as burgers I was going to make, in order to facilitate sandwiching cheese between these hunks of beef. After adding some spices, including but not limited to, like Montreal steak seasoning, I threw them in the fridge to ferment.
Step 3: Second Trimester
The next phase was my favorite because it involved bacon, and lots of it. Most recipes called for a 4x4 or 5x5 grid of bacon. Geometrically, this did not make sense to me. Wrapping a square sheet of bacon around a circular patty would have generated 4 flaps of excess bacon. So, I went for the thick cut applewood smoked bacon. A little more expensive, but well worth the piece of mind. When you consider the balance between burning the bacon on the outside versus undercooked meat in the core, thicker bacon seemed like a better idea. Anyway, I went with a 2x2 weave, which perfectly accommodated the size of my patty. The weave itself does not need to be any bigger than the surface of the burger. Anything else is just a waste of time, unless you really enjoy senselessly weaving raw bacon into a beautiful mesh of meat candy. The rest of the strips will just get folded over the patty anyway, so cutting them flush is not required.
Step 4: Third Trimester
Now for the last piece of the puzzle, cutting up the dogs. I chose to use beef franks by Hebrew National because they answer to a higher authority ... chuckle. I cut the entire package into thirds to form the heads, tails, and feet. I did this simply because I needed twice as many feet as I needed heads and tails. Additional, since i would be carving the ends for the head tail, a factory end was not required. For future reference, I will not cut silly little designs into the hot dogs next time. The faces that I meticulously cut into the heads and the finely tuned points of the tails were only discernible on the pre-cooked product. I'm not saying that you couldn't make out the mouth or pointy tail, but the amount of additional effort was unnecessary. Since my primary concern was the end result, I found the later part of this step to be a waste of time. However, if the spirit moves you, knock yourself out. For the feet, I made a single slice into an end piece about 1.5 inches deep. The heads had a v-shaped chunk removed and two shallow cuts, perpendicular to the v-notch, for eyes. Finally, the tail was whittled to a point and each pile of parts was bagged separately to speed up assembly the following day.
Step 5: Labor
It was now game time, and I was ready to see if everything would come together as planned. I laid out a bacon weave and slapped a patty on it's center. A slice of Colby jack cheese got folded into fourths and put on the first patty. The second patty was smashed on top and the weave ends got folded over the top. Then, some water soaked tooth picks were used to hold all the appendages in place after they got shoved into the appropriate locations. Don't forget to tell your customers about these toothpicks if you don't take them out yourself. I decided to let everyone remove their own toothpicks for two reasons. The first being that I had no intention of sticking my fingers into a pile of blazing hot protein, six times per unit. The other reason was my concern that the whole things would fall apart before the presentation could be appreciated. Space them evenly on a drip tray baking thing and throw them into a 350 degree oven. These trays probably have a real name, but I am an engineer, not a chef.
Step 6: Birth
Start checking them after about half an hour. Depending on how well your oven circulates the heat and how good your spacing is, will determine your actual cook time. I found that 30 minutes at 350 degrees would bring the center of a 1 pound burger up to a safe temperature, so anything beyond that is a matter of preference. That being said, if you don't want your hot dog parts lightly charred, stick a little foil cap on each one. And whatever you do, never try to put one of these on a grill. Logically, this amount of meat begs to be grilled, but fight the urge for the safety of your eyebrows. It turns out that even after oven cooking for 30 minutes, bacon still has a lot of highly flammable grease in it. What I am referring to is the fact that trying to manage 6 foot flames shooting out of your grill, even after the gas has been turned off, is difficult when sober and impossible when "lightly intoxicated". Keep a fire extinguisher and burn cream handy, if you don't trust me.
Step 7: Delivery
And there you have it, the epitome of "form follows function". This thing will justify my continued contribution to the obesity statistics in America, but why not. The physical weight of this beast is intimidating, but the variety of flavors and eating efficiency is second to none. Why have a barbecue where you spend hours in front of the grill shelling out multiple hot dogs or burgers to the same hungry person? Give them one of these and they are done for the day. I am more than open to suggestions or refinemnts, with one caveat ... prototype it before you go public. An untested theory is just that, a theory. So, if you like this concept and want to add your own twist, go for it. Invite some guinea pigs, I mean friends, over and practice. Regardless of how things pan out, share your triumphs and errors. I didn't see why someone else should get as curious as I did about why nobody grills these things, thus scorching both of their forearms. Enjoy!