My Favorite Patty Melt

An attempt to recreate the MeMe’s Diner patty melt, which of course is impossible because theirs is the perfect sandwich memory and restaurants provide so much more than just food. But this is pretty good.

If you have the means, you can honor MeMe’s by supporting organizations like FIG | ROAR NY | Service Workers Coalition | The Lesbian Bar Project.

You can also visit KIT, the new concept in the same space and subscribe to pastry chef Bill Clark’s new newsletter: A Piece of Cake.

photo of completed recipe: An attempt to recreate the MeMe’s Diner patty melt, which of course is impossible because theirs is the perfect sandwich memory and restaurants provide so…
  • You'll be eating in: 1 hour, includes 45 minutes to caramelize the onions

  • Active time: 10 minutes

  • Yield: 2 sandwiches

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Make the caramelized onions

    This takes at least 45 minutes, and can be done a day ahead. Slice onions, cook on low heat with butter and salt, stirring frequently until brown. Or follow this recipe.

  2. Grill the bread

    Heat a pan or skillet over medium heat. Generously slather each piece of bread with butter, now is not the time to skimp on butter. Place the bread butter side down and top with 2 slices of American cheese. Cook until the bread is browned, about 4 minutes (but may be shorter/longer depending on your pan and burner strength!). The cheese may not be fully melted and that's ok.

  3. Make the burger patties

    Heat a heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Form 1/4 lb - 1/3 lb burger patties and generously salt (you want them to be about the same size as your bread, we'll smash them wider but they'll also shrink from cooking). Once the skillet is hot, place the burger patties on the skillet and smash as thin as you can get them. Cook until well browned on the bottoms, about 1 minute. Scrape up the burger to get all the tasty brown bits, flip and cook for another minute longer.

  4. Assemble

    Here's the sandwich order: bread, cheese, burger, onions, sauce, cheese, bread. I put the burger and onions on one side, and the sauce on the other for easiest assembly, seen below.

    Here's the sandwich order: bread, cheese, burger, onions, sauce, cheese, bread. I put the burger and onions on one side, and the sauce on the other for easiest assembly, seen below.
  5. Slice and enjoy

    Slice diagonally and serve with your favorite fried potatoes. Don't hold back, really indulge here. Regret not making more than 2 sandwiches.

    Slice diagonally and serve with your favorite [fried potatoes](https://smittenkitchen.com/2020/04/crispy-crumbled-potatoes/). Don't hold back, really indulge here. Regret not making more than 2 sandwiches.

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Notes

There's no other recipe online that I could find, so did some research to supplement my memory. Here's a video of chef/owner Libby Willis making the sandwich (starts around 1:20).

Thank you MeMe's Diner for existing while you did. You can read more about why they decided to close in this interview with the owners. I also encourage you to read this essential piece on customer entitlement during the pandemic.

Variations

For a vegetarian riff, follow the recipe but use Impossible/Beyond Meat or try a broccoli or romanesco reuben.

Substitutions

If you don't like American cheese, I'm sorry but this is not the sandwich for you.

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