Nathan Myhrvold's Modernist Burger


A few years ago, I dubbed Heston Blumenthal's burger from his In Search of Perfection series to be The Most Labor-Intensive Burger in The World. And rightfully so. The recipe, which involves making the patty, cheese slices, ketchup, and buns takes a whopping 30 hours and 4 minutes to complete from start to finish.

Well, in Modernist Cuisine, the 2,400+ page, 5 volume, $625, most-highly-anticipated-cookbook-of-the-century that's getting just as much attention for its photography as for its thoroughness, Dr. Nathan Myhrvold one-ups Heston several times over. Over the next couple weeks we'll be sharing a few images and notes from the new book, which, for the record, is one of the most impressive things we've ever seen. But for now, feast your eyes on the burger (click the image above for a larger size):

From the top down, here's what's in it:

  • A top bun, made from scratch, toasted in rendered beef suet.
  • Burger glaze made from an emulsified mix of suet, stock, tomato, and smoked salt. Something like meatonnaise.
  • Maitake mushroom, sliced into a burger-sized round, sauteed in beef suet.
  • Romaine lettuce, sliced into a medallion and infused under pressure with condensed hickory smoke.
  • Heirloom tomato, compressed in a vacuum bag to concentrate its flavor and texture.
  • Cheese slice made by emulsifying Emmental and Comté cheese into a base of wheat ale, then pouring onto silicone, and slicing. This is an idea cribbed from Heston Blumenthal's playbook.
  • The burger, made from short rib ground and formed into a log so that the grain aligns vertically (another Blumenburger technique). Though the patty picture appears to have been grilled, Dr. Myhrvold described a different cooking method: The patty gets cooked sous-vide in suet, dropped in a liquid nitrogen bath, then immediately deep fried to crisp the exterior without overcooking the center.
  • Crimini mushroom ketchup flavored with honey, horseradish, fish sauce, ginger, and allspice.
  • The bottom bun.

Like the book itself, this creation is impressive, if only for its attention to detail and level of overwrought fussiness. But if this burger tastes anywhere near as good as the photograph is cool, I'd imagine it would ruin you to all other burgers for life.

Personally, I can't imagine it being any better than a Shack burger, or a Spotted Pig burger, but with exercises like these, sometimes that's not the point.

What are your thoughts?