The burger is usually thought of as summer fare — the progeny of some spatula-wielding self-appointed grill master. But true burger fans know that the very best are not cooked over grill grates, but on screaming hot solid surfaces, where the rendering fat and juices stay near the patty, creating not only a crispy exterior, but the deep, caramelized, confit-like richness that defines the flavor of a great burger.
Which means, of course, that burgers are actually year-round food, and armed with a heavy cast iron skillet or griddle, a great way to spend an dark, cold evening stuck inside. If we're gonna have January, than let us always have burgers.
Thomas and Quentin have come up with one of my favorite art projects from 2012 - "Fat & Furious Burger." Each week, the French graphic design team offer a new burger, a physical piece crafted from real ingredients, that comments on recent news and current events.
Fifteen years ago, I first heard about peanut butter cheeseburgers, and I assumed it had to be a joke. I was at a sports bar in my hometown in Iowa that had this vile sounding concoction on the menu and my friends were adamant that I would love it.
So I ordered it, and immediately fell in love. And I've been eating them ever since.
Now whenever I tell people about this delicacy, the reactions I get tend towards the intense. But believe me…peanut butter cheeseburgers are amazing. The sweet, gooey peanut butter compliments the savory burger patty perfectly, and believe it or not, the ketchup and mustard mixed in there makes for a perfectly heavenly bite.
If there is ever a reason to cite the "don't knock it 'til you've tried it" trope, this is the one.
Dave Arnold, Director of Technology at the French Culinary Institute, has imagined a burger of the future. What's so different? Oh, well, it begins with gluing strips of bacon together with Activia RM, then making a ketchup and veal stock gel with calcium lactate gluconate, which is then cut into a little circle and stuffed inside a patty made from short ribs and chuck. Then, the patty is deep fried, cooked with butter in an immersion circulator, then grilled on a makeshift charcoal grill, while toasted rye, pickles, cheese, and the bacon sheet are all cut into perfect circles. The sandwich is assembled, and when cut, the ketchup/stock gel explodes onto the plate.
Or, just watch the video:
Folks in California have a pretty fine food setup - they can grow avocado and citrus trees in their backyards, some kinda of winery is alway a day's drive away, and when you decide it's time for an In-N-Out burger, it's time for an In-N-Out burger.
And what are the rest of us to do? Why, make them at home, of course. To get the recipe just right, Serious Eat's writer Kenji Alt (of McDonald's French Fries at home fame) had four flash frozen burgers shipped from California to his home in NYC, busted out the scales, and got down to some serious reverse engineering.
Admittedly, I haven't tried the results yet, but with the detail and sheer reading-pleasure of Kenji's full walkthrough, you better believe its on my list of things to do this weekend.