Two Men, Two Pits and a Blog

The Art of Flame and Bacon Cheeseburgers

It is a pleasant thing, the sound of a match striking the side of its patron box on a hushed, winter’s eve. Even that initial blast of sulfur off the flame, tho unruly and noxious, it still triggers IMG_11821memories long recessed for which I am glad. Memories of past cooks, and campfires, and fellowship with the flames.

Fire. It’s part of the allure of outdoor cooking, I think. We get to play with fire. Upon lighting the charcoal this evening, I may have regressed to the age of ten again, doing things I probably ought not to. But I couldn’t help it, it’s fire after all. That brilliant, orange-fluttering seduction of heat and light, that which boys are irrevocably drawn. And tonight, I frolicked in the flames. I noticed with tongs in hand, if I tapped a charcoal chimney that which smoldered heap full of maturing coals, I got an interesting result. One difficult however to appreciate at the default and governed speed of life. But if I froze the moment, for the moment’s sake, oh what startling beauty I discovered. And with the click of a shutter, the art of flame was beheld. Lovely vectors of light, and tracers of orange and yellow against a pale, blackened night. Articulate and unique, like a thumb print on fire. Very cool, I thought. And a fun, inaugural firework sort-of-way to kick off tonight’s grilling endeavor – the venerable bacon cheeseburger. So grab yourself a lovely beverage, and we’ll tell you a little more about it, and how it went and came to be.

After the initial fire lust had ebbed, I was able to prepare the patties. 80/20 ground beef as a rule, makes a very fine place to start with your hamburgers. We took a pound of it, and formed it into three, shapely and uniform patties. My bride expressed interest tonight, in keeping a handle, as it were, on my proclivity for experimental flavors. She just wanted a basic, and simple cheeseburger. And with bacon if I might.  Well I can do that, I thunk. I’ve often croaked, after all,  that “simple is the best design.”

Very well“, I declared, “tonight’s feast shall be simple.”


Keeping to the simplistic theme, I dusted the patties lightly with only salt and pepper. Oh I was eyeing my racks of assorted spice and flavors, and tho it was difficult, I resolutely resisted. After the coals were scattered to the back side of the old kettle grill, setting it up for in-direct grilling operations, I ceremoniously tossed on a small chunk of cherry wood, just because. I found I rather like a bit of smokey taste to my burgers, and cherry wood is darn near about my favorite.  I gently placed the patties over direct heat for a little while per side,  lightly searing them there, and then inserted my tongs directly into the center of the BBQ grate, and with a torque of the wrist, twisted the entire grate, burgers and all, 180 degrees, thus putting all the patties simultaneously opposite the hot coals. A little trick Weber owners pick up on right away, courtesy of their inherent circular grates. I love that sort of thing!

The rest of the cook would be spent in-direct, bathed in that lovely and aromatic cherry wood smoke. We put some of the double cold smoked bacon we did up the other week, alongside the burgers.  Bacon on the stove top is delicious, nobody will deny that. But bacon done out on the grill, over smokey hard wood flames, is point-blank out of this world. Yum! Anyways, with the sounds of muffled traffic in the distance, the night waxed ever darker whilst I dawdled out by the pit. It wasn’t too cold tonight, only zero degrees or something,  and I could manage just fine in my smoking jacket. I stood henceforth abreast the pit, like men do, wallowing in the wondrous aromas belching forth there, and thinking for a moment, about burger craft.

Burgers are such personal things, I thought. Sort of like a blank canvas to start, and a pit master proper, puts his or her own unique stamp on it. Makes it their own. There is no one-and-only, nor singularly right way to make them, and that right there is where the science parleys to art.  And maybe that is why I like grilling burgers so well, along with all the BBQ arts. Each creation a potential masterpiece. Each cook a personal journey. And for the string of moments whilst you’re at the grill front,  steady-footed and tongs in hand, you are at once the resident Monet of Meat. You really are! At least in your own mind you are. And this then is your art.  So be proud then in what you have done there, aside licking flames and pastel evenings, where the wood smoke gently rises. Amen.


Keeping it Simple with a Cherry Smoked Bacon Cheese Burger. Man!

45 responses

  1. Debbie Spivey

    Nom, nom, nom!

    January 30, 2014 at 9:36 am

  2. Just when I thought I wasn’t hungry after eating huevos rancheros for breakfast…I see this pic!

    January 30, 2014 at 9:45 am

  3. As one who raised four boys to be Eagle Scouts I spent many a year camping outside with eleven to sixteen year old boys and I can testify that the allure of fire is alive in virtually all boys and men!

    We have been smoking and grilling down here lately and, “it is good!”

    January 30, 2014 at 10:11 am

    • Ah yes, you speak words of truth! The allure of fire! Looking forwards to hearing some more of your Ecuadorian grilling adventures.

      Take care John and Mary in Ecuador. Another 5 inches of snow in Minnesota today!

      January 30, 2014 at 10:30 am

  4. would go fantastic with a hot jalapeno tomato relish and cold beer..

    January 30, 2014 at 10:24 am

  5. Reblogged this on angelica robles.

    January 30, 2014 at 11:29 am

  6. I’m all for creativity but in the end a simple basic burger is my favorite. Looks delicious!

    January 30, 2014 at 11:34 am

  7. Reblogged this on dollcoronel.

    January 30, 2014 at 12:05 pm

  8. Now I am going off to Burger King to purchase a pathetic example of what is pictured. Sad. Very sad!

    January 30, 2014 at 12:54 pm

    • Richard, I admire you for uttering such blasphemous words upon these pages. Our pity is with you. I will admit I went there the other day, to BK, but it had been a long while since I had. I got me their franchise burger, was kind of disappointed on how thin the beef patties seem to be. Either my memories are bigger, or their whopper patties have all but shrunken up. I croaked like an old lady, bellowing, “Where’s the beef!” No one answered, and I ate my whopper in silence.

      Have a good one, Richard!

      January 30, 2014 at 2:27 pm

  9. Great picture of the fire! I think I have to add bacon cheeseburgers to my menu for next week… it’s been awhile since I’ve lit the grill! Such inspiration, thank you!

    January 30, 2014 at 1:23 pm

    • Thank you kindly, Kate. I know, I was surprised at the beauty of sparks frozen in time. Little treats like that are waiting for every time we light the grill.

      Let there be bacon !

      Thanks Kate!

      January 30, 2014 at 2:15 pm

  10. Good God the goodness of the look of that burger!!!! Drooling like Homer Simpson right about now.

    January 30, 2014 at 1:59 pm

    • Its quite alright, we’re used to wiping that stuff up around here. Carry on!

      January 30, 2014 at 2:23 pm

  11. I love love love this blog… although it frequently makes me hungry. sighs… giggles. Yummmmmmm

    January 30, 2014 at 2:15 pm

  12. Another masterpiece in it’s simplest form. I now know what is for dinner tonight.

    January 30, 2014 at 4:24 pm

  13. laurie27wsmith

    Simple indeed but very tasty by the look of it.

    January 30, 2014 at 9:42 pm

    • It was tasty indeed, Laurie. Nothing like a big burger to set a man right again.

      January 31, 2014 at 9:27 am

      • laurie27wsmith

        Indeed, I’ve been known to consume a few over the years and not only store bought. Keep those recipes coming.

        January 31, 2014 at 10:26 pm

  14. You have a good photographer. Visual is important. I want some of those fries.

    January 30, 2014 at 10:08 pm

  15. Pingback: Healthy Grilling Tips

  16. Brilliant writing monsieur..

    January 31, 2014 at 2:43 am

  17. lasecuritycameras13

    Burger is my favorite food. Thanks for share the post.

    January 31, 2014 at 12:10 pm

  18. Now that’s a burger!

    February 4, 2014 at 5:20 pm

  19. Looks great as always! I wish I could find that proper American style cheese readily in Australia as it’s just not a proper cheeseburger without it

    You said you used 80/20 – what cut of meat do you find fits this profile best?

    February 6, 2014 at 1:27 am

    • Howdy! 80/20 usually come from ground chuck as far as I know. We have some butchers who read this that might chime in, but from what I know 80-20 is from the chuck which is around the neck area of the cow. I do know for sure that it tastes good! A little fat in our burgers is a good thing.

      Take care, and thanks for the comment!

      February 6, 2014 at 3:16 pm

  20. Your knack for writing is as masterful as your grilling. Truly a pleasure.

    February 7, 2014 at 9:08 am

    • Kim, thank you very much for that. I really mean that. Thank you!

      February 7, 2014 at 10:35 am

  21. I can’t even breathe… I have been overcome with barbecue porn… Words cannot express the joy this blog is giving me! from the bottom of my
    heart… Thank you sirs.

    February 10, 2014 at 4:14 pm

    • Wow, thank you sir. We certainly appreciate the feedback, and I will thus assume yours is sincere. Thanks much. Its going to be fun having you around I think!

      Checking out some of your photos you’ve done over there. Good stuff!

      February 10, 2014 at 4:16 pm

  22. smokiebutgoodie

    I wasn’t poking around the pages of POTP back then, but just about 3 years ago, a very smokey, wise wordsmith once described fire as:

    “That brilliant, orange-fluttering seduction of heat and light…. Lovely vectors of light, and tracers of orange and yellow against a pale, blackened night. Articulate and unique, like a thumb print on fire. Very cool, I thought…”

    Very cool indeed! But I’m talking about your dreamy description of flame which somehow captured the magic of fire.

    Did you ever watch that animated movie “Ratatouille”? Do you remember that scene towards the end where the grim food critic takes one skeptical bite of ratatouille, and was suddenly captivated as he was catapulted back through fond and warm memories of childhood?

    That is exactly what your smokey words do for me each time I read your posts. So I guess that makes your poetry my “Ratatouille”.

    Bless you for all the memories.

    March 20, 2017 at 9:48 pm

    • Smokie!!! Very good to see you again. Seems like it has been a moon or two! Your comments never fall short of the best, setting the bar for all comment makers to come. Thank you for the kindest of words. That’s cool to hear. And yes, Ratatouille is one of my favorite pixar like movies. I asked for that one for my birthday one year, and now it resides proudly on my shelf. Yup, there is a lot of great scenes in that one, and I do indeed remember the snobby food critics throwback to the good old days, there at the end. Glad you were able to take a similar journey, Smokie, tho I doubt you are a snob such as he was!

      Anyways, good to see you again. The porch light is always on for you!

      March 21, 2017 at 11:11 am

      • smokiebutgoodie

        Well thank you kindly for the warm welcome back! The steely grip of the rat race life in Los Angeles has been keeping me from making my rounds on your trusty blog.

        Speaking of which, may I say that your posts also never fall short of the best – in point of fact, your blog is the only blog I follow and read regularly for pleasure. It’s a great escape into a hobby I love, and I learn nifty stuff too, like your “torque of the wrist” 180 degree grate spinning trick! Brilliant! What was I thinking, manually moving all the food, piece by piece, to the cooler side of the rack all this time?

        Aha, I had some inkling you would like Ratatouille, and there you are, with your own personal copy. Good idea, I feel like watching it again now.

        Btw, I had another aha moment when I saw the above photo of your drool-inducing cherry smoked cheese burger showcased on that plate with the black and white checkered rim. Some time ago I stumbled upon your post where you talked about your very own 1950’s diner setup…this plate is a perfect accompaniment to your dinette! Well color me impressed, you really do things up right and go all the way when you put your mind to it. Just like the way you do all of your BBQ meals, just like the way you do this awesome blog, and just like the way you grill on even in the dead of winter. Way to live it up! I really enjoy reading about how you thoroughly savor and live your life to the fullest. Bravo.

        March 21, 2017 at 11:52 pm

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