A Two Michelin-Starred LA Chef Shares His Best Burger Recipe
Chef Josiah Citrin calls for American cheese, grilled onions and an extremely special sauce
Chef Josiah Citrin’s name is synonymous with the best LA cuisine has to offer. His many projects include the two Michelin-starred property Mélisse and its sister restaurant Citrin, which was recently lauded with one star itself; the more casual, grill-focused Charcoal Venice; collaborative projects like Dear John’s and Dear Jane; Openaire at the Line Hotel in Koreatown and many more. More recently, Citrin opened a fast-casual spot in Santa Monica, Augie’s On Main, that pays homage to his late son, Augie, who tragically died from an opioid overdose in 2020.
With menu items like the infamous “dirty chicken” from Mélisse, a fried chicken sandwich and, of course, a burger, this cafe is geared more toward a good, quick meal than an elaborate fine dining experience. But when a chef like Citrin is making a burger, it comes out a bit differently than it might in someone else’s kitchen. “At Augie’s, we grind our own meat to get the perfect amount of fat-to-meat ratio so that the flavor of the meat really shines,” Citrin tells InsideHook. “American cheese is a must because it melts perfectly and doesn’t get extra greasy or coagulate. The toppings on the burger are not an afterthought or there just to exist — the tomato adds a little acidity to cut the fat, the grilled onions add a touch of sweetness, and the lettuce adds a perfect crunch.”
As someone who has put together a whole host of his own menus, no one is more familiar with the timeless appeal of a burger than a chef like Citrin. So why does this staple take up so much real estate in our collective food unconsciousness? Because of how simple it is. “I think the simplicity of a burger is what makes them so craveable,” he said. “Seemingly there’s not much to it. It’s a few different ingredients put together, but with the right ratios, it gives you that life-affirming feeling. That salty, unctuous bite of a burger is what almost everyone dreams of at the end of the day.”
The burger at Augie’s is also set apart by its homemade sauce. “Our ‘special’ sauce we use adds a little more depth of flavor than the average thousand island-influenced sauce with the addition of wasabi, ginger and honey,” the chef says. “The intention is never to overpower the flavor of the meat.” With that in mind, here’s Chef Citrin’s take on the ultimate classic, a cheeseburger with grilled onions and his very own homemade burger sauce. And remember, if your at-home cooking doesn’t turn out Michelin-level on the first try, Augie’s is open Wednesday through Sunday from 11:30 a.m. until 8 p.m.
Augie’s On Main Burger Recipe From Chef Josiah Citrin
- FOR THE BURGERS
- 1½ pounds 70/30 ground beef or if grinding, 65% chuck and 35% brisket
- 1 sweet onion, sliced into thick rounds
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
- Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 4 large brioche or challah hamburger buns, top and bottom cut off and center discarded
- 4 slices white American cheese
- Butter or iceberg lettuce
- Heirloom tomatoes, sliced
- Burger sauce (recipe below)
- FOR THE SAUCE (Makes about 1 cup)
- 1 cup mayonnaise
- 1½ tablespoons ketchup
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 2 teaspoons champagne vinegar
- 1½ teaspoons honey
- 1½ teaspoons fresh grated ginger
- ½ teaspoons wasabi paste
For the burgers, gently hand-shape the ground beef into 4 patties, about 6 ounces each, 5 to 6-inches in diameter, and about 1 inch thick. Don’t pack the meat too tightly — too much pressure will result in a tough, chewy burger. Place the formed burgers side-by-side on a pan and refrigerate
to allow the patties to set. In the meantime, prepare the onions.
Place a griddle or large cast-iron pan on the stove and preheat over medium-high heat for at
at least 10 minutes. Lay the onion rings flat on a sheet pan, drizzle with the oil and season with salt. Saute the onions for 8 to 10 minutes, turning them over halfway, until charred on both sides. Remove the onions to a cutting board and chop into small pieces.
Brush both sides of the burgers lightly with mayonnaise and season generously with salt and
pepper. Put the burgers on the griddle and gently flatten with the bottom of a spatula. You only
want to flip the burgers once and they should turn easily without sticking from the fat in the
mayo. Cook the burgers for 3 minutes and then flip them over with a spatula.
Sprinkle the burgers with chopped charred onion, put a slice of cheese on top of each, and continue to cook the other side for 3 more minutes. An instant-read thermometer inserted into the center should read 140°F for medium-rare. Remove the burgers to a clean side plate to rest, so you have enough room to toast the buns. Rub the griddle with a paper to clean any small charred pieces, then toast the hamburger buns cut-side down for 1 minute.
For the sauce, in a mixing bowl, combine the mayonnaise, ketchup, Worcestershire, vinegar, honey, ginger,
and wasabi. Whisk until smooth. The sauce may be stored covered in the refrigerator for up to
To build the burgers, spread 2 tablespoons of the burger sauce on the bottom bun, add a
lettuce leaf and slice of tomato; season with salt and pepper. Top with the burgers, cheese-side
up. Spread another 2 tablespoons of the sauce on the top bun and close.
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