Mission Burger

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Approximate Cost: $45

Only an ambitious home cook will go the whole nine yards and make something as complex as a granulated burger, but this recipe illustrates a larger point about effort and technique. There’s no reason something should be cooked a certain way just because that’s the way it’s usually done. When I think back on all those burgers I formed by hand, slapping ground beef thoughtlessly back and forth, back and forth, I weep with shame. Then I brine pork belly in those hot, bitter tears. (Note: The photos below depict the production of about sixty burgers.)

Ingredients

For The Patties, You will Need

  • pounds of chuck
  • pounds of brisket
  • 3 pounds of short rib
  • 1–2 pounds beef fat, depending on how fatty your meat is
  • at least ½ cup of kosher salt
  • plastic wrap (the wider, the better)

For the Toppings, you will Need

  • rendered beef fat
  • 4 onions
  • 16 slices monterey jack cheese
  • 3 cups caper aioli
  • 16 medium-sized buns, or english muffins

Method

  1. Using a sharp knife, remove “silver skin” and tough, gristly parts from each cut of meat and reserve for making stock.

    Alanna Hale, Dennis Kim, Jesse Friedman, Jackson Solway, Simon Huynh, and John Oram; Mission Burger photos by Jason Adra

  2. Trim off large pieces of fat and reserve. Some fat may remain on the meat.

    Alanna Hale, Dennis Kim, Jesse Friedman, Jackson Solway, Simon Huynh, and John Oram; Mission Burger photos by Jason Adra

  3. Cut meat into 1" cubes, keeping them separated.

    Alanna Hale, Dennis Kim, Jesse Friedman, Jackson Solway, Simon Huynh, and John Oram; Mission Burger photos by Jason Adra

  4. Salt the meat and spread it onto racks. Refrigerate uncovered for two days.

    Alanna Hale, Dennis Kim, Jesse Friedman, Jackson Solway, Simon Huynh, and John Oram; Mission Burger photos by Jason Adra

  5. Cut the fat into ½" cubes.

    Alanna Hale, Dennis Kim, Jesse Friedman, Jackson Solway, Simon Huynh, and John Oram; Mission Burger photos by Jason Adra

  6. Weigh the total amount of beef, keeping the chuck separate from brisket and short rib.

    Alanna Hale, Dennis Kim, Jesse Friedman, Jackson Solway, Simon Huynh, and John Oram; Mission Burger photos by Jason Adra

  7. Grind the fat with the brisket and short rib. (See note on proportions after step 3.)

    Alanna Hale, Dennis Kim, Jesse Friedman, Jackson Solway, Simon Huynh, and John Oram; Mission Burger photos by Jason Adra

  8. Make a wide landing strip of plastic wrap, using multiple, overlapping layers.

    Alanna Hale, Dennis Kim, Jesse Friedman, Jackson Solway, Simon Huynh, and John Oram; Mission Burger photos by Jason Adra

  9. Grind the mixture again, this time adding the chuck to create textural variation.

    Alanna Hale, Dennis Kim, Jesse Friedman, Jackson Solway, Simon Huynh, and John Oram; Mission Burger photos by Jason Adra

  10. As the meat strands emerge from the grinder, carefully collate them by laying them on plastic wrap in a parallel formation. Stack the strands to create a pile with a 5" girth.

    Alanna Hale, Dennis Kim, Jesse Friedman, Jackson Solway, Simon Huynh, and John Oram; Mission Burger photos by Jason Adra

  11. Bundle the strands with the plastic wrap, to form a “meat column.”

    Alanna Hale, Dennis Kim, Jesse Friedman, Jackson Solway, Simon Huynh, and John Oram; Mission Burger photos by Jason Adra

  12. Press firmly so the column holds together, but don’t compress it too much.

    Alanna Hale, Dennis Kim, Jesse Friedman, Jackson Solway, Simon Huynh, and John Oram; Mission Burger photos by Jason Adra

  13. Slice the column with a sharp knife to form patties that are ¾" to 1" thick.

    Alanna Hale, Dennis Kim, Jesse Friedman, Jackson Solway, Simon Huynh, and John Oram; Mission Burger photos by Jason Adra

  14. Sear onions in very hot beef fat until mostly soft. They’ll finish cooking on their own.

    Alanna Hale, Dennis Kim, Jesse Friedman, Jackson Solway, Simon Huynh, and John Oram; Mission Burger photos by Jason Adra

  15. Sear each patty in beef fat over high heat for 60–90 seconds, until a crust forms.

    Alanna Hale, Dennis Kim, Jesse Friedman, Jackson Solway, Simon Huynh, and John Oram; Mission Burger photos by Jason Adra

  16. As the burger cooks, cut the tops off the buns and toast. Top one half with cheese.

    Alanna Hale, Dennis Kim, Jesse Friedman, Jackson Solway, Simon Huynh, and John Oram; Mission Burger photos by Jason Adra

  17. Flip the patty carefully, and sear the other side for 45–60 seconds. Transfer the patty to an ungreased pan over medium heat to finish cooking, and to allow some grease to drain off.

    Alanna Hale, Dennis Kim, Jesse Friedman, Jackson Solway, Simon Huynh, and John Oram; Mission Burger photos by Jason Adra

  18. Top the patty with onions and cheesy bun.

    Alanna Hale, Dennis Kim, Jesse Friedman, Jackson Solway, Simon Huynh, and John Oram; Mission Burger photos by Jason Adra

  19. Rest in a warm spot for another 2 minutes to finish cooking/draining.

    Alanna Hale, Dennis Kim, Jesse Friedman, Jackson Solway, Simon Huynh, and John Oram; Mission Burger photos by Jason Adra

  20. Smear 1 ½ tablespoons of caper aioli on the bottom bun, and assemble burgers.

    Alanna Hale, Dennis Kim, Jesse Friedman, Jackson Solway, Simon Huynh, and John Oram; Mission Burger photos by Jason Adra

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