I have a few friends with kids who, maybe out of delirium or exhaustion or, likely… awesome creative parenting, have asked their kids what they want for dinner and made… exactly that. From what I can see that usually ends in a chicken nugget, strawberry jam, ice cream concoction that… if you cock your adult head just so, seems absurdly delicious. Something along the lines of chicken nugget pancake tacos. It’s really not the worst idea.
When I was a kid, my dream dinner surely would have been something like Cheeseburger Rice followed by a Captain Crunch, strawberry ice cream, bubble gum combination that my adult self surely wouldn’t bat an eye at (save for the bubble gum).
With that, I bring you what might be the most comforting of all comfort foods – a cheeseburger deconstructed in a bowl with Chinese takeout rice. Warm, rich, pickle-y, starchy and appropriate for indulgent overconsumption like a kid unsupervised at a birthday party. Ya know? But we’re grown now and we can make our make our own dreams come true.
This recipe is inspired dream girl Cara Nicoletti from her show about hangover food. This… well, you can imagine that this is absolutely a hangover cure because the only cure for over-indulgence is more over-indulgence (of the carb variety).
Are you in? We can stir together strawberry ice cream and Captain Crunch directly after.
Ok here’s what you’ll need for this extravaganza:
• White rice – the key is to stop by your favorite Chinese food takeout spot and pick up two big containers of rice. There’s something about the fluffy stickiness of takeout rice that is juuuust right.
• Ground beef – I like higher fat ground beef because… listen, we’re in this.
• Bacon, chopped and cooked to crisp.
• Chopped onion – imperative.
• Eggs, for scrambling
• Grated sharp cheddar cheese and pickles – as found on every good cheeseburger
• An almost absurd amount of yellow mustard – believe me, it’s the key to making a cheeseburger taste like a cheeseburger.
• Ketchup because that hint of sweetness balances the tang of the mustard.
• Iceburd lettuce for that watery crunch.
Well, let’s get after it!
We’ll start by cooking the bacon. We want to do two things here:
Bring the bacon to crisp for that crunchy, smoky, salty bite in our fried rice.
And! We want to render the fat from the bacon – using heat to draw the fat out of the bacon and into the pan. We’ll use that bacon fat to cook the onions to a soft golden brown. It’s like magic, really. Already delicious.
To the cooked bacon and onion we’ll mix in the mustard. All of it – and it seems like a lot. We’ll need all that mustard tang to holler at the plain rice. Trust.
Stir the mustard into the bacon and onion mixture in a hot pan.
Listen, it’s look like a gloop of a mess and that’s right. Spoon the mixture into a small bowl and set aside.
Next up: ground beef.
We’ll return the pan (it’ll still be streaked with mustard) to the heat, add the beef, and cook, breaking up the ground beef with a wooden spoon as it cooks.
We want small bits. All that mustard and browned pan bits will creep up into the beef for added flavor as it cooks.
When the beef has cooked through, spoon the beef into a small bowl and drain off all but 2 tablespoons of the fat in the pan.
What’s fried rice without a scrambled egg? Ok… still fried rice, but eggs makes it better.
We’ll whip up three eggs for this big batch of rice. Cooked to quick scrambled in the pan after the beef.
And everything goes back in the pan!
Cooked eggs, cooked beef, cooked bacon, onions, and mustard.
And this is when I realize that the pan I’m using is about 3 times too small for this dish and, guess what? I’m just going to keep going.
I’m nothing if not optimistic and stubborn.
It’s funny because I’m not done adding things.
Pickles – sour and sliced.
Cheddar cheese – a good whole lot of it.
Put the cheese in cheeseburger.
And lettuce too. Believe me – that watery crunch is something we welcome.
And sesame seeds. Like the bits on top of a bun.
And it’s all tucked back into the paper rice to-go containers we got the rice in. New and improved – holy smokes is it ever!
Now is a good time to fire up the a tv binge for have a nice long sit-and-stay on the couch with, say… the second season of Goliath / eight episodes of Dateline / a Law and Order SVU run? You know what’s up.
Photos with my friend, Jon Melendez.
- 4 thick slices of bacon, chopped before cooking
- 1 large yellow onion, chopped (about 1 1/2 cups)
- 1 cup yellow mustard, plus more to serve (yes, 1 cup)
- 1 pound ground beef
- 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
- sea salt and fresh cracked black pepper to taste
- 4 cups cooked rice, preferably from a Chinese food restaurant
- 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
- 2 cups shredded iceberg lettuce
- 1 heaping cup sliced gherkins
- toasted sesame seeds for topping
- ketchup for tipping
- Heat a wok or very large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the bacon pieces and cook until crispy, about 4 minutes. Add in the onion and cook until soft, about 3 to 5 minutes more. Lower the heat and stir in the mustard and cook 1 minute. Mixture will be gloopy, but that’s right – transfer to a small bowl.
- Without cleaning the pan, add the beef and cook over medium heat, breaking up pieces with a wooden spoon, until browned and cooked through, about 5 to 7 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Transfer to a small bowl and drain off all but about 2 tablespoons of fat.
- Return the pan to medium heat and add the beaten eggs, stirring constantly around the pan until the eggs are cooked through and dry. Add the beef back to the pan. Add the mustardy bacon and onion mixture back to the pan. Add the rice.
- Cook, stirring over low heat, until thoroughly mixed and warmed through, about 4 minutes.
- Remove from heat and add the pickles, cheese and lettuce. Stir to combine. Taste and season with salt and pepper as necessary.
- Divide into bowls and top with ketchup, more mustard, and toasted sesame seeds. Enjoy warm!