There are those of you who might be wondering why you need yet another burger recipe, and then there are those who just can't get enough. This burger from Jamie Oliver's Comfort Food is for both of you: it delivers classic flavor all juiced up and a little weird, in a wonderful way. Oliver takes the traditional components and gets kinda nutty with them, adding slight twists that really do make this a worth-a-try-even-if-you're-sick-of-burgers burger.
The onions are dressed with vinegar, the cheese is slightly tangy Red Leicester, the bacon and pickles are...bacon and pickles. Then he takes finely chopped iceberg lettuce and mixes it into a sauce that one might say is 'special'—mayo and ketchup with chipotle Tabasco, Worcestershire, and a splash of booze (just go with it; it works and is silly good). The burger itself gets glazed with mustard and more of the smoky Tabasco while it cooks, then it's all piled on a seeded brioche bun, which has been briefly toasted in the bacon fat. Bonkers. You'll have juice up to your elbows and a plate full of run-off that you will want to wipe clean with a torn piece of bun or your tongue, depending on how insane it makes you feel.
Why I picked this recipe: I fall into the just-can't-get-enough camp.
What worked: It all worked, except for the eventual structural failure of the bun.
What didn't: Not a complaint, but just a heads-up: Things can get a little hairy if your bacon needs tending when you're supposed to be basting your burgers, and it does need to be perfectly done just at the moment your burger is ready for it, to avoid overcooking the meat. That said, his timing did work for me.
Suggested tweaks: I don't see why you couldn't cook your bacon beforehand, if you want a more relaxed experience; just remember to heat the grease back up in time to toast the buns. If you can't find Red Leicester cheese, a mild cheddar would work well in its place.
From Jamie Oliver's Comfort Food by Jamie Oliver. Copyright 2014 Jamie Oliver. Excerpted by permission of Ecco, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.
- 1 3/4 lbs ground chuck steak
- Olive oil
- 1 large red onion
- 1 splash of white wine vinegar
- 2 large gherkins
- 4 sesame-topped brioche burger buns
- 4–8 slices of smoked bacon
- 4 teaspoons yellow mustard
- Tabasco Chipotle sauce
- 4 thin slices of Red Leicester cheese
- 4 teaspoons tomato ketchup
- Burger Sauce
- 1/4 of an iceberg lettuce
- 2 heaping tablespoons mayo
- 1 heaping tablespoon tomato ketchup
- 1 teaspoon Tabasco Chipotle sauce
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- Optional: 1 teaspoon brandy or bourbon
For the best burger, go to your butcher and ask them to grind 1 3/4 lbs of chuck steak for you. This cut has a really good balance of fat and flavorsome meat. Divide it into 4 and, with wet hands, roll each piece into a ball, then press into flat patties roughly 5 inches wide and about 3/4 inch wider than your buns. Place on an oiled plate and chill in the fridge. Next, finely slice the red onion, then dress in a bowl with the vinegar and a pinch of sea salt. Slice the gherkins and halve the buns. Finely chop the lettuce and mix with the rest of the burger sauce ingredients in a bowl, then season to taste.
I like to cook only 2 burgers at a time to achieve perfection, so get two pans on the go—a large non-stick frying pan on a high heat for your burgers and another on a medium heat for the bacon. Pat your burgers with oil and season them with salt and pepper. Put 2 burgers into the first pan, pressing down on them with a slotted spatula, then put half the bacon into the other pan. After 1 minute, flip the burgers and brush each cooked side with a 1/2 teaspoon of mustard and a dash of Tabasco. After another minute, flip onto the mustard side and brush again with another 1/2 teaspoon of mustard and a second dash of Tabasco on the other side. Cook for 1 more minute, by which point you can place some crispy bacon on top of each burger with a slice of cheese. Add a tiny splash of water to the pan and place a heatproof bowl over the burgers to melt the cheese—30 seconds should do it. At the same time, toast 2 split buns in the bacon fat in the other pan until lightly golden. Repeat with the remaining 2 burgers.
To build each burger, add a quarter of the burger sauce to the bun base, then top with a cheesy bacon burger, a quarter of the onions, and gherkins. Rub the bun top with a teaspoon of ketchup, then gently press together. As the burger rests, juices will soak into the bun, so serve right away, which is great, or for an extra-naughty experience, wrap each one in parchment paper, then give it a minute to get gorgeous and sloppy.