The Spotted Pig burger is a masterpiece of beef, brioche, and blue cheese. [Photograph: Robyn Lee]

Back in early June, right before Kenji headed off with his wife Adri on a jealousy-inducing three-month trip through Asia, he had a little going-away shindig at one of his favorite NYC restaurants, The Spotted Pig. I arrived after already having eaten dinner and joined them at the upstairs bar, where I planned to drink a couple beers, see them off, and then head home.

As I stood there, gulping down a lager, my eyes started catching the plates of food flowing past. On most of those plates: The Spotted Pig's famous blue cheese-topped chargrilled burger. Oh, that perfectly grill-marked brioche bun. Oh, those hefty beef patties, sparkling with beads of fat and juice. Oh, that melted Roquefort cheese.

Before I could remember that I'd already eaten a full dinner, I'd elbowed my way to the bar, caught the bartender's eye, and ordered my own burger (plus some herring, because I am a weak, weak man who has no sense of moderation).

Like Kenji, who said the same thing back in 2010, I wouldn't generally expect a hulking grilled burger topped with blue cheese to be all that great. But Chef April Bloomfield is a genius, and in her hands, this thing is a masterpiece, fully deserving of all the attention it's received.

Kenji, in his obsessive burger pursuits over the years, cracked the code on every element of The Spotted Pig burger to come up with a recipe that's just as good as the original. Made in full, it's quite a project, but a worthwhile one to be sure, especially during grilling season. But even if you don't feel like making every part (including the bun!), you can still cut a couple corners while benefitting from the overall idea. In a pinch, for instance, I might buy brioche buns instead of baking my own. And if you don't feel like grinding your own beef, you can always go to a good butcher and ask them to grind it for you to the recipe's specifications.

Seeing as how I don't have a grill, though, I may just have to go back to The Spotted Pig. Soon.


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