In A Burger to Believe In, Chris Kronner shares his insight on how to make the best burger at home, plus creative side dishes and accompaniments.
No grinder? No problem. My friend Michael Black, a San Francisco sushi chef, once told me that the only burger worth eating is the one you cut by hand. A hand-cut burger is a nice option for a smaller group, or a sophisticated dinner party where you can sing the praises of beef tallow. This recipe magically turns a single steak into dinner for four.
- Chill the steak in the freezer until firm to the touch but not frozen, 15 to 20 minutes. Cut the steak into 1⁄4-inch-thick slices, then slice into 1⁄4-inch-thick strips, and then into 1⁄4-inch cubes. Remove the sinew and connective tissue but keep the fat.
- Divide the beef into four equal balls. Put a sheet of plastic wrap over a 4-inch ring mold on a cutting board or other hard surface. Put a ball in the middle of the mold and gently press down with the palm of your hand, forming a patty that is 4 inches wide. Pop it out with the plastic wrap. Put the patties on a large dish or small baking sheet and refrigerate until ready to cook.
- Melt 2 cups of the butter in a pot over medium heat. (Why yes, that is a lot of butter, but it’s used to fully submerge the onion while it cooks; you will not eat 2 cups of butter in this burger.) Add the onion, turn the heat to low, and gently cook at a bare simmer until the onion is tender, about 20 minutes. The onion should be cooked but still al dente, so there’s some texture and a slight hit of sharpness yet not enough that you’ll taste onion the rest of the day. Remove the onion from the butter and drain on a paper towel.
- While the onion cooks, make a horseradish sauce. In a bowl, mix the grated horseradish with the buttermilk and a pinch of salt. Stir to combine and refrigerate until ready to use.
- Before you begin cooking the burgers, get the buns toasting. Heat a cast-iron skillet or similar surface over medium-low heat. Slice the buns in half horizontally. Smear the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter on the buns and place, butter side down, on the hot surface, working in batches if necessary. Toast until golden brown, 6 to 8 minutes, adjusting the heat if necessary. You want to do your best to time their completion to the burger cooking.
- While the buns toast, cook the patties. Heat a cast-iron skillet or grill over high heat. Use a spatula to handle the patty—it will be loose, so be careful. Salt both sides of each patty and put them on the hot skillet. Cook on one side, about 1 minute, then flip the patties and cook until rare, another minute.
- Place a patty on a bottom bun and top with some pickles and onions. Slather 1 1⁄2 teaspoons horseradish sauce on the top bun and cap it off. Repeat.