Matt Paradis's cheat meal is an over-the-top behemoth of a burger. We tried it for ourselves

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Tuesday September 5th, 2017

Denver Broncos center Matt Paradis has only two requirements when it comes to his ordinary, day-to-day meals: lots of protein—typically chicken or fish—paired with vegetables, a staple in his diet. “That’s about it,” he says.

But when he wants to stray from the norm and satisfy his cravings, Paradis only wants one thing: a burger. And that’s no surprise, given that he grew up on a 500-acre family cattle ranch, run by his father, in the tiny town of Council, Idaho (pop. 818). There was always something to be done on the farm, says Paradis, who spent his early years “working all of the time.” The one advantage? Lots of beef.

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“Looking back, I’m pretty sure we ate it every meal,” he says. “I’ve been disappointed in burgers since leaving because growing up, I was spoiled by the quality of the meat. It was fresh—it hadn’t been through any chemical processes. When you go out to these restaurants and chains, it’s just not the same.”

In an effort to create the perfect burger and channel his childhood for an epic cheat meal, Paradis partnered with Boston-based company BurgaBox to develop an insane, over-the-top monstrosity called the Bronco Burger. Here's what the behemoth burger is made of: two angus beef patties with cheddar jack cheese, beer braised onions, BBQ beef brisket, chili peppers, horseradish sauce and Bronco BBQ sauce. Then—because that’s obviously not enough—it’s served with two sides: chili mac and cheese and beer sauce-covered french fries.

“I love it because it’s a reflection of the taste of Colorado with the peppers and other ingredients,” says Paradis. “For a cheat meal, it tastes great and I won’t be upset eating it because it tastes so good. That’s the problem with cheat meals sometimes—if you cheat and the meal doesn’t taste good, your diet isn’t on point and it doesn’t taste good. That’s upsetting. Luckily with this, that’s not the case.”

And luckily with this, you, too, can make Paradis’s gluttonous creation at home.

Similar to meal delivery services such as HelloFresh or BlueApron, BurgaBox sends all of the ingredients needed to craft this monstrous burger—plus all of the sides to go with it—in one box (priced at $65 for two) so you can whip up a cheat meal the next time you're in the mood to eat thousands of calories.

When delivered, the box comes packed with ice packs and all of the ingredients labeled and bagged together. The directions for each item are listed out on two cards sent in the box. With the help of some sous chefs, I embarked on this cheat meal journey one August afternoon. 

You’ll need to preheat the oven and pop the mac and cheese in once it’s all hot and ready. Season the two beef patties with the special spice packet and coat a pan with a drizzle of oil and get it on the stove to get nice and sizzling. 

I was initially concerned about the lack of grilling involved—burgers should be charred up on a screamin' hot grill outside, right?—but the two patties cooked nicely in a regular non-stick pan, without smoking up the kitchen or making too much of a mess. Once the other toppings are heated through and the buns are toasted and buttered, it’s time for the assembly: Slather up the rolls with the horseradish sauce, add the patties (covered with cheese) and then pile on the beer braised onions, beef brisket and chili peppers and drizzle with a generous squeeze of BBQ sauce. Plated up with some sides and served with an ice cold beer from our friends at Kane Brewing, the finished product looked something like this:

It was all delicious—and decadent. There was so much food, definitely way more than enough for two people, which is what the box is supposed to serve. Between my sous chefs and I, we divvied it all up between five people—and still had some leftover sides for later. The meat in the burger was juicy and flavorful and the beef brisket topping was a good match with the onions and extra BBQ sauce. The mac and cheese had a bit of a kick to it and the baked beans were tasty. The extras seemed like a bit much, but they all came together to make one kick-ass burger. And that’s exactly what Paradis was going for.

“They’re all of my favorite ingredients. The onions are amazing and the peppers bring that Colorado taste,” he says. “And growing up on a cattle ranch, you can never have too much beef.”

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