2 pounds ground chuck (15 to 20 percent fat content)
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more as needed
Freshly ground black pepper
4 slices (about 4 to 6 ounces) Monterey Jack cheese
4 ciabatta buns or 4 slices ciabatta loaf, toasted
About 1/2 cup Tapenade
Butter lettuce (optional)
Thinly sliced ripe tomato (optional)
This cheeseburger recipe adapted from Hubert Keller of Burger Bar is made with juicy ground beef, Jack cheese, and olive tapenade. The rich, salty pungency of the olive paste adds complexity to the burger.
1Divide the meat into 4 portions and shape them into evenly sized patties. (Handle the meat gently to keep the texture light and the burger juicy.) The patties can be shaped, covered, and refrigerated overnight at this point.
2When ready to cook, heat the measured olive oil in a large frying pan or grill pan over medium-high heat until very hot. Alternatively, heat an outdoor grill to medium high (about 375°F to 425°F). Generously season the meat on both sides with salt and pepper.
3Cook the burgers, basting them with the fat in the pan using a large spoon and flipping halfway through the cooking time, about 7 to 10 minutes total for medium rare. (Do not press down on the patties while they are cooking.) For the last minute or two, drape a slice of cheese over each burger to melt. (You can also heat the oven to 450°F, cook the burgers on the stovetop until they are brown on both sides, and then finish them in the oven.)
4Remove the burgers to a platter, place in a warm spot, and let rest for several minutes before serving.
5To assemble the burgers, spread each of the bun bottoms with about a tablespoon of tapenade. Add the burgers, top with lettuce and tomatoes (if using), and another tablespoon of tapenade. Cover with the bun tops. Serve immediately.