I love hamburgers. I love them in all their forms (thick, juicy 1/2-lb. patties of wagyu... thin and crusty sliders... mini-burgers... all of it!) and with almost all iterations of toppings (well, I do pause at Auckland's legendary 3 a.m. White Lady). I crave them tirelessly, and I often cause Lav a bit of concern with the number of times I could happily mow down a burger and fries throughout the week. Really, the only reasons I limit my burger intake at all are (1) to keep my arteries relatively clear and (2) the absence of truly devastatingly good burger options in Seattle.
That's right Seattlites... I don't understand your undying devotion to Red Mill or the appeal of Dick's Drive In (yuck). If only we had the easy dependability of In-N-Out or Taylor's Refresher, the old-school classic greatnesss of Joe's Cable Car, the amazing quality-to-dollar ratio of Burger Joint, the refined accessibility of Absinthe and Myth (both complete with terrific frites/fries)... and perhaps my all-around favorite, the unexpectedly great burger at Slow Club (although the price has gone up). Just to name a few.
The mighty burger is also important because its greatest versions can be among the most satisfying, emotionally wrenching, endorphine-cranking highs in food experiences... all while maintaining a pretty egalitarian edge. Food for the masses... great burgers are generally not so expensive as to be inaccessible (excluding this homage to atrociously wasteful decadence... sorry DB, love your stuff, but come on, $120???), but they still require a skilled and attentive hand to achieve their full glory.
Lav and I were up at Cafe Besalu for our usual pain au chocolat and almond croissant, and Lav also wanted an onion gruyère tart. One bite of that buttery, rich pastry with its sweet, earthy flavors and my first thought was... I want a burger with caramelized onions and gruyère! I turned and spotted fresh baked brioche and the plan was in motion.
We had some leftover braised short rib from the night before, so I pulled that meat apart and mixed it with some 80% lean ground chuck (2 parts chuck to 1 part short rib)... just enough for four small slider patties. We ended up making two types of burgers:
caramelized shallot + gruyère on lightly grilled brioche
classic bacon cheddar burger, black cherry tomatoes, field greens, ciabatta
Oh yeah... the braised short rib added seriously unctuous juicy richness to the patties, which developed a nice crust on the iron skillet. Add some crunchy matchstick fries and a glass of 2005 Montes Alpha Cabernet Sauvignon (Colchagua Valley) and my craving was sated... for now. Lav reminded me last night that one of my New Year's resolutions was to eat less meat. Well, of course! That's why these were mini sliders...
Food for thought: the crisis of world food balances... ok, I really should eat less meat.