Perfect Burger

Like many great quests the resolution to this one came about by chance. I’d been working on the Perfect Burger Project for a couple years stymied by dead ends along the Juicy-Lucy stuffed path and most recently the charred anaheim/serrano/onion topped with marble jack path. In fact I was at the Walmart to restock for a new attack along those lines when serendipity intervened.

As usual you can’t realistically expect exactly what you are looking for at Walmart. Their supply/stocking isn’t consistent. This time the first substitution was Tillamook cheddar for the missing Cabot. No problem with the marble jack. In the produce section I was confronted with overflowing bins of peppers arranged vertically. The anaheims actually appeared fresh w/o their usual withered appearance. Serranos good too- but after pulling a couple small ones, I instead replaced them with a couple more robust ones from near the top of the bin. Note that I didn’t study these new choices carefully.

New girl at checkout was unfamiliar with the codes for the peppers and could not locate the anaheims on her cheat sheet so called over the manager guy. He and I promptly got into an argument over the more robust “serranos” which he insisted were Jalepenos! At one point I said “bet you a million dollars they are serranos” and he countered by trotting off to the produce area to take photos of each; It wasn’t a very busy mid-day. I wasn’t convinced but happily paid the lower jalepeno price.

I didn’t re-look at the peppers until prepping for a burger days later. The First Step (single 1/3 pound burger) is cutting the tops off (1) Anaheim and one (only now obvious) Jalepeno. Then slice each lengthwise into quarters and scrape out seeds. Place pepper slices into a preheated heavy skillet with a dab of oil and flatten with a heavy spatula or better yet; a potato masher. Time for 5 minutes a side at a low hissing, below smoking heat. Peppers should be 50 % scorched black on both sides and soft. Add a quarter (tennis ball size) Red Onion sliced thin along it’s top to root axis and continue the process until the onion is soft and a bit carmelized. Push all to the side and toast buttered potato buns. Transfer buns and onion/pepper mix to a warm serving plate. Keep them apart for now as the onion pepper mix will go on top of the cooked burger.

Reheat the skillet at a higher setting (just smoking) for cooking your burger. While the peppers were blackening you should have portioned your Hay Creek grass-fed burger into a 1/3 pound patty just a bit larger in diameter then the bun. Keep the edges tight and smooth to avoid drying. Kosher salt and black pepper both sides, working the salt/pepper into the surface by cross-hatching with the underside of a fork- like the peanut butter cookie treatment. Cook the burger 2 minutes per side, placing a single 3-4 mm thick slice of Tillamook cheddar (WTH; it’s the first I saw in the cheese drawer and already opened) on the just-flipped first side. Let the burger rest in the pan maybe 30 -60 seconds after turning off the heat (beyond the second 2 minutes).

Place the burger on your unadorned (NO condiments) lower bun, top with pepper/onion mix, slap the top bun on (NO condiments) and dig in! Truly Sublime. There were virtually zero grand expectations for this outcome so impartiality is guaranteed. Remember, you heard it first here.

Oh, the timing of this whole process works out really well for prepping homemade fries cut from a single longish unpeeled russet potato. Simply handcut the fries with a 8 inch+ chefs knife and begin heating for a 5 minute parboil at the point you first flip the peppers in the skillet. Drain and begin pan-fry in a separate skillet at the point you turn off the pepper/onion mix.