Two Men, Two Pits and a Blog

How To Have Roses In December: Smoked Cheddar Burgers on the Kettle Grill

A cool wind stirs, as the last of a golden light ebbs over the neighborhood roof tops, their silhouetted chimney stacks puffing contentedly against a pale, autumn sky. burger2Where geese occasionally cruise on the wing, first stars appear, and the moon holds still, suspended in time, above the old Cottonwood tree down by the pond. A tree almost, but not quite yet ready to give up its beloved leaves. Umpteen thousands of them, born of green, the shapely spawn of the Populus deltoides, such as the Latins have coined, and my but how they have fluttered brightly the summer long. A life of sunny days and rainy nights. Of storms and droughts. Of bluebird skies that would never end. Now one by one, laying to rest in fields of gold.

Oh what a show the Minnesota trees are putting on right now. By the time this is published, most of the leaves, save for the stubborn, old oaks, will have parted ways with their respective tree, and made their rendezvous with decay on the forest floor. One can’t help but to marvel at the beauty of it all right now, and I guess if you’re anything like us, kindle a good fire in the pit, and cook something there. To flip meat over flame whilst the leaves rain down upon thee. It’s good times, people. And while the coals come up to speed here, let us head inside, shall we, and see how we prepared tonight’s protein.

burger1Now, just as I do not know how many leaves have fallen in my yard, likewise, I cannot tell you how many cheeseburgers I have grilled in my life. Both tallies are rather uncountable, I should wager, and neither will ever be enough. Oh how I fancy a good burger. When guests are to come over, burgers are at once an easy dinner solution that most people, save for the odd, toothless relative, seem to devour with a haste usually reserved for flannel clad individuals on a diet with a disturbing affection for maple glazed doughnuts. You know who you are. Burgers are just good, people. And they always will be. Here then is this patron’s go-to burger recipe when rumbling tummies come calling.

What we do is disperse one envelope of onion soup mix evenly through a pound or so of  80-20 ground beef . The soup mix, if you like that sort of thing, adds a delicious ensemble of flavor, that which favors beef, and can nary attempt to be any simpler. Work it into the meat good and thorough and get your hands dirty. It’s OK. Good meat responds to the hands that which pamper it.  Anyways, that’s it for the seasoning. In point of fact, it’s more than enough. In the steel bowl towards the back, in case you were wondering, resides a few spuds from the fertile fields of Idaho, lovingly shaped by my beautiful bride into a plethora of french fries for to swim in the electric deep fryer. Nothing accents your burger craft with more authority than a batch of home-made french fries. Do go out of your way some time, and try it.


Burgers deployed over the iron grate, opposite the hot coals. You can cook burgers anyway you want. If you want to go directly over the coals, and cook them hot and fast, then let it be so. Today, however, I was in the mood to mosey. To take the scenic path as far as grill craft is concerned. So we placed them indirect, and tossed on a hunk of mesquite wood too.




After a fashion, the old, porcelain enameled lid was set in place, and the damper adjusted just so. Naturally there after I assumed the proper pit master position, in the outdoor man chair, legs crossed like a gentleman of leisure, lovely beverage within reach, and the brim of my hat tipped up in a rather nonchalant manner. The blue-tinted smoke spiraled out of the vent in long, magical tendrils, dissipating into the ether, and smelled point-blank out of this world.  I hear the tell-tale honk from one of Minnesota’s patented voices, the Canadian goose, who it seems is always aloft this time of year – the benediction of Autumn. It brings a smile to my face, as I lean back and look over the kettle lid, at the old Cottonwood tree, standing handsome at the edge of the pond. It’s upper most canopy still lit in the evening sun. It’s leaves softly clacking in the breeze. And for a while at least, all the world spins as it should. These are but the moments pit-side we cling to, and try to remember come the frigid, short days of winter. And so I sat there in the quietude, with wood smoke rising, trying to remember. Amen.

God gave us memory so that we might have roses in December – James M Barrie


Mesquite Smoked Cheddar Cheese Burgers, Darting Canadian Geese, Autumn Awesomeness & Deep Moments – it’s all there, people, and patron to the pit.


23 responses

  1. An intriguing title, an evocative quotation and a fabulously written post. And that’s before we even get to the food! I love your style of writing and cooking; you are quite simply unique (and I mean in a special way).
    I would love to eat that burger, I can taste it from here. Oh well, off for my “power walk” in the Dartmoor mist and drizzle, just dreaming of a pit side burger!
    Great job!

    October 23, 2014 at 9:39 am

    • Many thanks, Karen! Good to hear from you again! It’s drizzling here too, and I love it. A climatic texture I agree with.


      October 23, 2014 at 9:46 am

  2. Love smoked burgers.
    Try stuffing the burger with cheese before smoking it……… absolutely great.

    October 23, 2014 at 10:26 am

    • Ah yes, the juicy Lucy as its called in these parts. Yeah we’ve done that on occasion. Wonderful !

      Thank you sir!

      October 23, 2014 at 12:38 pm

  3. I just came in from the patio area where I have been “busy” watching and smelling some forty dollars worth of pork chop roasts and a half dozen turkey thighs smoke away in the mesquite chip smoke our daughter recently brought down from the States. We have some neighbors’ meat on the grill with ours (what the heck there was plenty of room) so we are smoking meat for four families today.

    Thanks for the inspiration. I always have room for a good cheese burger and yours looks excellent! Another great day in retirement here in Ecuador!

    October 23, 2014 at 10:30 am

    • Your words are smokey music unto my ear drums. Looks like you’re doing things right today, down in paradise. Very nice. Good eating,and good times.

      Looking forwards to your write up on this!

      Take care John and Mary in Ecuador !

      October 23, 2014 at 12:36 pm

  4. I had to fold my hands, close my eyes and say Amen at the end!

    October 23, 2014 at 11:26 am

  5. friendsofthedredge

    Yum!!!!! 😉

    October 23, 2014 at 12:22 pm

  6. Glad to see you are getting some proper Minnesota weather. Our fall is just beginning to show out here, and we are looking forward to much needed rain that hasn’t shown yet. Your prose takes me to a place where seasons are more pronounced and it sounds quite lovely. And you got me thinking about indirect burgers – I love them that way also, finished direct a couple of short minutes for good measure. Carry on!

    October 23, 2014 at 12:59 pm

    • Ah many thanks, kind sir. Yes indeed, we are enjoying the fruit of this fleeting season with all our might. I do think you would fancy it, knowing your affinity for the out-of-doors. I’m sure California has it’s own thing you can’t find elsewhere.

      Indirect cooking seems to work on anything. At least I’ve never regretted using the technique.

      Take care, Mr Quincho, and carry on!

      October 23, 2014 at 1:52 pm

  7. Dang. Now I’m starving for grilled burgers and a beverage. 🙂 Well written piece o’ Patrons.

    October 23, 2014 at 1:21 pm

    • You can make it happen, old chap. We believe in you!

      Thanks TJ!

      October 23, 2014 at 1:32 pm

  8. Eff yes! I’ve been loving the kettle grill thing I got for my birthday. The flavour is off the fricking hook. Damn fine, my friend!

    October 24, 2014 at 1:40 am

  9. Great article with great photos of great food included. I have to recommend mesquite wood to my friend who runs his own BBQ restaurant. After reading this article, I could almost feel the taste of your cheesburger in my mouth. You brought back my memories of preparing the food, sitting down in my chair and enjoying my own existence. And what is more important, you are telling us that preparing the food is not just about eating, but about enjoying the whole way from the wood chopping to the eating (I would probably skip washing the dishes).

    October 24, 2014 at 9:00 am

    • Thanks John. Yeah, the food is only part of why I love good BBQ. I’m also rather in love with the process. And the ambiance of it all. And I guess also never quite knowing absolutely what you’re going to get. And that in turn, makes it art. And I like that. I like it a lot.

      Thanks for your thoughtful comment. You sir, are welcome back any time you wish!

      Have a great day!


      October 24, 2014 at 10:38 am

  10. Pingback: How To Have Roses In December: Smoked Cheddar Burgers on the Kettle Grill - Best 2 Buy Outdoor

  11. No you didn’t. You did not just go extreme close-up on that burger. mmm.
    Indirect is the way to go.

    November 11, 2014 at 12:50 pm

  12. You got me craving a burger now. Damn, them look good.

    November 13, 2014 at 9:07 am

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