The Norwegian-American cheese burger with crisp Fenalår

Very few things are as American as a fat burger.  First created in America in 1900 by Louis Lassen, a Danish immigrant, it is only fitting that a Norwegian with a Danish wife does his own take on the gastronomic classic!

Lea and I are suckers for anything hand held, be it tacos or falafels or pizza or pasties or banh mi or burgers or…you name it, we dig it! And it makes absolutely perfect sense on a boat too; one hand for your food, and one hand for your drink and both legs planted firmly in a wide stance on deck as your yacht is being tossed around in a gale!

I’ve always loved the concept of the classic American cheese burger, but, call me an elitist if you like, but I cannot stand that plastic-like thing they try to pass off as human food. They even have the audacity to call it cheese!!

So this is my attempt at creating a cheese burger with real american flavors, but infused with some European culture and flavors too 🙂


Serves 4

The buns

The patty

  • 700 g meat from beef short ribs or chuck (or a mix)
  • Small pinch cayenne
  • Small pinch garlic powder
  • Sprinkle fine sea salt

The burger sauce

  • 2 tbsp Mutti ketchup (or other high quality)
  • 2 tbsp full fat sour cream
  • 2 tbsp mayonnaise
  • 1 tbsp Chee hou sauce (we used from Koon Chun)
  • 1-2 tsp Tabasco (we used our buddy Jesse’s home fermented espresso hot sauce)

The rest

  • 12 thin slices Fenalår (or Jamón Ibérico), crisped up in a pan
  • Lettuce
  • Quality pickled cucumbers (we used Änglamark organic )
  • 12 slices Ridder cheese (or authentic French Port Salut or Saint-Paulin)
  • 2 large, ripe tomatoes, sliced
  • 1/2 red onion, finely sliced


Ok, so first off: What in the hell is Fenalår?? It is Norwegian dry cured leg of mutton (but some times game like deer etc), much like a Italian Parma ham or Spanish Jamón Ibérico. I do make my own in the fall, but that’s a recipe for another time…

Home made Fenalår and strong, home brewed Vossaøl ale to go with it

Make the best goddamned burger buns according to recipe, and make sure to sprinkle with sesame seeds.

Grind the meat in your meat grinder using medium grind (or get some really high quality minced meat from your butcher. Angus, Charolais, Limousin or some other good beef cattle breed.). Sprinkle with the cayenne, and shape gently, but firmly into a thick log; you don’t want it too dense. Use a sharp slicer and slice into 4 patties. Do the final shape with your hands. Set aside in the fridge.

Mix everything for the burger sauce quickly together, and set aside in the fridge.

Prepare “the rest” and put everything on a few plates so they’re easily accessible to you when plating the burgers. Also slice your burner buns.

In a large cast iron pan, fry the Fenalår or Jamón Ibérico in a bit of oil on medium high heat until nice and crisp. Set aside on a wire rack on top of a sheet pan to drip.

Turn up the heat to high. Sprinkle your patties with fine sea salt on both sides. Do not add more fat to the pan, simply put the patties into the pan and fry until you have a nice sear and lovely pink and medium center. Set aside on the wire rack.

Turn down the heat. Put the lower part of the burger bun and put them in the now quite greasy pan, cut side down. Use your hands and twist them around so they soak up some fat evenly.

Give them a nice browning, then lift each bottom half onto a plate. Put the burger top in the pan, cut side down, and toast these in the searing fat as well.

While the top half of the bun is toasting, start building your burger. Start with a good dollop burger sauce, followed by lettuce, 3-4 slices tomato, a few slices red onion, and then the burger patty.

Top the burger patty with the Ridder cheese. Bring out your kitchen torch and grill the cheese until nice and melty with a bit of scorch here and there. You could melt the cheese in the broiler if you don’t have a torch, but a torch is the absolute most convenient way of doing this. (more about this in the Mini Masterclass section below)

When the cheese is melted, top with a few pickles, and then the Fenalår. Take the top half of your bun and spread a good dollop burger sauce on it, put it on your burger, and dinner is served!

Mini Masterclass

A kitchen torch is a FANTASTIC tool, and I absolutely love mine! But here’s a secret – it is not a kitchen torch, it’s a heavy duty torch for soldering and melting ski wax and whatnot. It is far more powerful, and more usable than those flimsy crème brûlée burners you can buy at fancy kitchen stores at exorbitant rates.

Mine’s a Sievert Powerjet, but I’m sure there are many other excellent brands too.

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