Last year, for my dad’s 70th birthday, I made a fairly intensive summer menu featuring a platter of prosciutto, grilled asparagus and pecorino; chicken liver mousse with blackberries and bread; corn soup with prawns; Maine lobster salad with heirloom tomatoes; duck confit; and an apricot tart.
This year for his 71st, my dad had a simple hankering for a hamburger, or 汉 堡 堡 (han bao bao, translated literally as “Chinese baby”). During a recent visit to New York, he’d fallen hard for The Breslin’s Charbroiled Lamb Burger, so I chose to make the classic Charbroiled Burger which earned an enthusiastic following at April Bloomfield’s first restaurant, The Spotted Pig. There are three components to getting this burger right at home: (1) Kindly ask your butcher to grind equal parts well-marbled short rib, brisket, and sirloin — and take care not to overcook the beef; (2) Find pillowy-soft brioche buns with a shiny lacquered exterior; (3) Top the burger with your favorite blue cheese. Lacking restraint, I added a few other goodies, but none were needed and might’ve even been a distraction. With such a highfalutin burger, you’re going to need an everyman side. Where better to turn for that than America’s most dubious “restaurant,” Hooters?
makes 6 half-pound burgers:
1 pound each of well-marbled boneless short rib, sirloin, and brisket
(or your butcher’s premium burger blend with higher fat content)
6 soft brioche hamburger buns, cut in half
10-12 ounces of Roquefort cheese or Point Reyes blue, room temperature
kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
grainy mustard, sliced red onion, avocado, and bacon (optional)
Have your butcher run the meat through a meat grinder. Form six patties about 4.5-inches wide and 1-inch thick each, making a slight depression in the center of each patty. Season the patties generously with salt and pepper. Prepare a charcoal grill and heat until the charcoals are uniformly grey, about 20 minutes. When the grill is very hot, place the patties on the hottest part of the grill for 1-2 minutes each side, then move them to a cooler part of the grill, cover, and cook to desired temperature (120 F for for rare and 140F for medium on an instant-read thermometer). Transfer patties to a cutting board and let them rest for 5 minutes. Next grill the buns, pressing down to achieve a golden brown cross-hatch pattern on the top of the bun. Place the burger on the bun, top with the blue cheese and any other desired toppings, and serve immediately.
1 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting the onions
(or 3/4 cup flour plus 1/4 cup cornmeal)
1 cup beer, such as a lager
1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
1/2 teaspoon red chili powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2-3 large onions, peeled and sliced into 1/3 inch rings
canola or peanut oil for frying
Mix the flour, beer, and spices. Let sit for 30 minutes at room temperature. Heat about two inches of oil in a large heavy pot or saucepan to 370F. Spread flour on a plate. Dust a batch (5-6) of onion slices in the flour. Then dip them one at a time in the batter, shake off excess batter, and carefully place each onion ring in the hot oil. Cook the onion rings for several minutes until golden brown on both sides. Drain the onion rings on a paper towel or wire rack. Salt them and serve immediately.