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'Wicked Good Burgers' With Chef Andy Husbands07:15
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A classic burger jazzed up with Andy's mango chile slaw.
A classic burger jazzed up with Andy's mango chile slaw.

Meghna recently got a lesson in cooking a classic summer food: the burger. Andy Husbands' new book is "Wicked Good Burgers." And, according to him, the key to a wicked good burger is wicked good technique.

This may seem pretty straightforward, but that perfect sear isn't easy. Let's just put it this way: You can call a great Rothko painting just a bunch of color blocks and stripes --- but it's more than that. Same goes for the humble burger.

Andy will be demonstrating his burger prowess at Wellesley Books tonight at 7 p.m.

Guest

Andy Husbands, chef and owner of Tremont 647, a restaurant and bar in Boston's South End


Recipes:

The brat burger offers a twist on a classic street snack.
The brat burger offers a twist on a classic street snack.

Brat Burger

12 ounces (340 g) ground veal

12 ounces (340 g) ground pork

1 teaspoon (2.2 g) freshly ground nutmeg

11⁄2 teaspoons (3 g) fresh cracked white pepper, plus more to taste

11⁄2 teaspoons (2.7 g) ginger powder

1 tablespoon (15 ml) hefeweizen beer (drink the rest)

1 tablespoon (14 g) butter, softened

2 teaspoons (10 g) kosher salt, plus more to taste

Vegetable oil, for cooking

4 mindy’s pretzel Buns (recipe follows)

mindy’s pepper Jack Cheese Sauce (recipe follows)

When Mindy Segal, one of our favorite pastry chefs, a James Beard Award winner, and owner of Hot Chocolate Restaurant and Dessert Bar in Chicago, offered us her bun and sauce recipes, we couldn’t say no. They are just too good. After several discussions about the best type of burger to serve with them, basically, it came down to, “What goes best with pretzels and cheese?” Chris came up with the idea of a Brat Burger. It was such a natural that we couldn’t believe we ever had to think about it. We heart you, Mindy. Thanks.

In a large bowl, combine the veal, pork, nutmeg, 11⁄2 teaspoons (3 g) white pepper, ginger powder, beer, butter, and 2 teaspoons (10 g) salt.

Divide the mixture into four 6-ounce (170 g) portions and shape into burgers according to the technique in chapter 1 (page 17). Refrigerate, covered, while you prepare the skillet. Heat a skillet over high heat until very hot. If you have an infrared thermometer, the skillet should register at least 500°F (250°C). Or test by brushing on a bit of oil. When the skillet starts to smoke, it is ready.

Brush oil onto the skillet and remove the burgers from the refrigerator. Season the burgers with salt and white pepper and sear them for 2 minutes. Flip the burgers and cook for another 2 minutes. Transfer to a plate and let rest, tented, for 5 minutes. While the burgers are resting, heat the cheese sauce.

To serve: Place the burgers on the bottoms of the buns and spoon the cheese on top. Place the tops of the buns over the cheese.

Yield: 4 burgers


The tried-and-true beef burger.
The tried-and-true beef burger.

Our Perfect Burger
1 1⁄2 pounds (680 g) beef chuck or ground chuck from your favorite butcher, or your favorite
combination (See “Special Burger Blends,” pages 14–15.)
11⁄2 tablespoons (11 g) Fifth Dimension Powder (recipe follows) or 1⁄2 teaspoon (2.5 g) kosher salt
Vegetable oil, for cooking
Kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper, to taste
4 slices deli-style American cheese, optional
4 Flour Bakery Burger Buns (page 60) or Katie’s Burger Buns (page 63)
We can’t stress enough how important the quality of the meat, the grind, the shaping, and cooking technique are to a burger. If even one of the elements is off, you can have a good burger, even a really good one, but it won’t be perfect. Condiments and rolls do a lot to enhance burgers, but a truly great burger should be able to stand on its own—Delicious naked, if you will. That is the kind of burger we’ve created here. Though we’re not suggesting you eat it naked. If you want to give your burgers an extra flavor boost, be sure to add the Fifth Dimension Powder. Or you can use 1⁄2 teaspoon (2.5 g) kosher salt.

Freeze the chuck until frozen but not stiff, about 1 hour. Remove from the freezer and season with Fifth Dimension Powder or 1⁄2 teaspoon (2.5 g) kosher salt. Grind the chuck according to the technique in chapter 1 (page 15). If you’re using ground chuck, mix in the Fifth Dimension Powder or 1⁄2 teaspoon (2.5 g) kosher salt. Refrigerate while you prepare the skillet. Heat the skillet over high heat until very hot. If you have an infrared thermometer, the skillet should register at least 500°F (250°C). Or test by brushing on a bit of oil. When the skillet starts to smoke, it is ready.

Remove the chuck from the refrigerator. Divide into four 6-ounce (170 g) portions and shape the patties according to technique in chapter 1 (page 16). Season with salt and pepper. Brush the skillet with oil and arrange the patties without overcrowding. Cook for 3 minutes. Turn the patties over and cook for 2 minutes more. If you like your burgers rare (which we recommend), the internal temperature should register 120° to 125°F (49° to 52°C); medium-rare burgers should have an internal temperature of 130° to 135°F (54° to 57°C). We don’t want to know about it if you cook your burgers any more than that.

Transfer the burgers to a platter and lay a slice of cheese on top if desired. Tent the platter with foil and allow the burgers to rest for 3 to 5 minutes. Alternatively, you can grill the burgers.

To serve: Place the burgers on the bottom halves of the buns. Spread Best.Mayo.ever. (recipe follows) and/or mustard on the top halves and add your favorite toppings. Our preferences are cold, crispy iceberg lettuce, thinly sliced tomatoes (in-season only), Caramelized onions (page 158), Gram’s Bread-and-Butter Pickles (page 31), and any of the Wicked Killer Burger Toppings in this chapter.

Yield: 4 burgers


This might resemble a beef burger, but it's actually a completely vegan beet burger.
This might resemble a beef burger, but it's actually a completely vegan beet burger.

Beet Burger

1 large red beet

½ Portobello mushroom cap, thickly sliced

Olive oil, for roasting, plus 1 tablespoon (15 mL)

Kosher salt to taste

2 cloves garlic, minced

½ shallot, minced

1 teaspoon (5 mL) soy sauce

1 can (15 ounces, 425 g) white beans, rinsed and drained

2 teaspoons (10mL) cider vinegar

2 teaspoons (10g) barbecue dry rub

Freshly crackled black pepper, to taste

1 cup (195g) cooked brown rice, room temperature

Juice from ¼ lemon

½ cup (25g) panko

2 tablespoons (28 mL) vegetable oil, for cooking

½ zucchini

2 teaspoons (10mL) olive oil

2 tablespoons (12g) chopped fresh mint

4 Flour Bakery Buns

Tomato-Ginger Ketchup

Butter lettuce

One thing we love about hamburgers is that they always feel like a treat. With veggie burgers, that's often not the case. A lot of times, they can look and taste more like hockey pucks than delicious meals. After a bit of trial and error (we admit it; it wasn't easy), we created a completely vegan burger that has the great meaty texture everyone loves about burgers; and it's delicious. We bet your carnivorous friends will enjoy them as much as those who never touch animal stuff.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Wrap the beet in foil and roast until cooked but still firm, about 30 minutes. Cool, peel, and cube (you should have about 1 cup (225g) cubed beets).

Line a baking sheet with foil. Spread the mushroom slices on the sheet, drizzle with olive oil, and season with salt. Roast for 15 minutes.

In a mixing bowl, toss together the beets, mushroom, garlic, shallot, thyme, and soy sauce. Reserve.

In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade, process the beans for 20 seconds. Add 1 tablespoon (15mL) olive oil, vinegar, barbeque rub, salt, and pepper and pulse 3 to 4 times.

Add the beet and mushroom mixture and process for 10 seconds until the beets are incorporated but the mixture is still chunky.

Add the rice and lemon juice and process for 10 more seconds. Transfer to a bowl and fold in the panko.

Shape the mixture into 4 patties, place on a platter, and freeze for ½ hour refrigerate overnight. Or wrap the burgers individually and freeze for up to 3 months.

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.

Heat a large cast-iron pan over a medium-high heat and add oil.

Working with two burgers at a time, cook the burgers for a 2 minute per side and then transfer them to an oiled sheet pan. When all the burgers have been cooked, place the sheet pan in the oven for 5 minutes.

While the burgers are baking, thinly slice the zucchini lengthwise, using a mandolin if you have one. Season the zucchini with olive oil and mint.

To Serve: Place the burgers on buns, drape 2 pieces of zucchini over the burgers, and garnish with Tomato-Ginger Ketchup and butter lettuce.

Yield: 4 burgers


This burger wrapped in a tortilla is even better than it looks.
This burger wrapped in a tortilla is even better than it looks.

11⁄2 pounds (680 g) ground chuck, or chuck for grinding

1 teaspoon (2.1 g) cumin seeds, toasted and ground

2 tablespoons (13 g) New Mexico Chile Ground

Kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper, to taste

Oil for frying

8 slices pepper Jack cheese or your favorite cheese

4 burger buns, toasted

4 twelve-inch (30 cm) flour tortillas

1 egg mixed with 1 tablespoon (15 ml) water, for tortilla wraps

Don’t knock it ‘til you’ve tried it. The first time we served this burger at a party, the jokes were flying. A burger in a bun, wrapped in a tortilla? “The Carb Burger,” people called it. Then they started eating, and nobody was joking any more. We’re not recommending that you eat like this every day. All we can say is, it’s even better than it looks. And if you have any relish left over, enjoy it with your morning eggs.

Make the green chile relish: In a small bowl, mix together the New Mexican chiles, red onion, cilantro, lime juice, olive oil, garlic, and red pepper flakes. Season with salt and pepper.

Set aside until the burgers are ready.

Make the burgers: If you are grinding the meat, mix the chuck with the cumin and chili powder and grind according to the technique in chapter 1 (page 15). If you have ground meat, add the spices and mix thoroughly. Shape the burgers according to the technique in chapter 1 (see page 17).

Heat a skillet over high heat until very hot. If you have an infrared thermometer, the skillet should register at least 500°F (250°C). Or test by brushing on a bit of oil. When the skillet starts to smoke, it is ready.

Brush oil onto the skillet and sear the burgers for 2 minutes per side. Skip the resting step. Instead, remove the burgers from the heat and transfer to a sheet pan. Quickly spread about 2 tablespoons (30 g) of Green Chile Relish on each one and quickly top with 2 slices of cheese. Let the burgers rest on the pan for a minute so the cheese sets.

Fill a saucepan (or Windsor pan) with 4 inches (10 cm) of oil and heat to 350°F (180°C, gas mark 4).

While the oil is heating, wrap the burgers. Place each burger in a bun. One at a time, invert the burger, in its bun, onto the center of a tortilla and wrap the tortilla around it, making overlapping folds and using egg wash to hold down each fold. The result should look something like a pentagon. Place burgers in the pan, fold side down. Fry for about 2 minutes per side until the tortillas are evenly browned and crispy. Serve immediately with green chile relish.

Yield: 4 burgers

This segment aired on July 10, 2013.

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