This Is the Recipe for Selby’s $50 Black Label Burger
How to be a burger master at home
What is it about a luxury burger that makes people go completely apeshit? From the $33 Black Label Burger at NYC’s Minetta Tavern to the $5000 foie gras-adorned Fleurburger at Las Vegas’ Mandalay Bay Resort, revamping such a nostalgic fave with upscale ingredients has somehow become a chef signature — and Selby’s chef Mark Sullivan is no different.
“I have always liked the idea of taking a pedestrian, everyday dish and seeing how it could be put on a pedestal and be served at a Michelin-star restaurant,” he says. His Black Label burger merits its wallet-lightening $50 price tag thanks in no small part to its crown: a three-ounce pile of seasonal fresh truffles.
But make no mistake: This burger isn’t all about the toppings. Each element of the sandwich is carefully cultivated for excellence.
“What makes this burger special are the ingredients,” says Sullivan. “Each ingredient went through a lot of vetting before it made the final cut.”
It all starts with the patty: a blend of dry-aged hanger steak, short rib and chuck sourced from Flannery Beef in San Rafael.
“Bryan Flannery and I worked for several months testing various blends and compositions of cuts,” says Sullivan. “We also played around with the grind. We finally found a blend that was uniquely ours and worked exceptionally well with the supporting components.”
The burger is brushed with softened butter, seasoned liberally with salt and pepper, and grilled to a perfect medium rare. It’s then placed on a toasted challah bun, which Sullivan prefers thanks in large part to its texture.
“Challah has a very light and airy interior and chewy exterior that is the perfect vehicle for a burger,” he says. “In my view, the bun should almost fade away and allow all of the flavors of the high-quality meat and fixings to take front stage.”
That said, he does give the bun a bit of love by brushing it with homemade garlic aioli before turning his attention to the toppings.
First up is a truffle-infused butter made with truffle salt and chives. Chilled and sliced into medallions, it’s added to the burger while it’s still on the grill, to melt into a rich puddle under a slice of Robiola la Rustica from Lombardy. According to Sullivan, the washed rind cheese’s assertive flavor (with a characteristic eau de gym socks) “marries well with the truffle and adds decadence and umami.”
Speaking of decadence, the finishing touch is that towering pile of shaved truffle, the variety of which changes according to the season: white Alba from Italy, Burgundian from northern France, or, Sullivan’s favorite, French black truffles from Périgord.
“They have a fantastic aroma and melt into the burger,” he says. “They are bold enough to stand up to the richness of the meat and cheese.”
Vinegar-marinated onions, lettuce and tomato add just enough balance and freshness to really seal the deal.
Of course, on his days off, Sullivan is not above a simpler burger. His favorite pairs the exquisitely cooked patty with heirloom tomatoes, raw red onion, bread and butter pickles, avocado, lettuce, bacon, fontina cheese, Dijon mustard and aioli.
“Not so simple!” he admits — but at least it doesn’t mean you have to live off ramen noodles for the month to follow.
Selby's Black Label Burger
For the burgers
- 4 (8-ounce) dry-aged beef burger patties
- 2 tablespoon softened butter
- Kosher salt
- Freshly cracked black pepper
- Truffle butter, as needed (recipe below)
- 4 challah buns
- 4 slices heirloom tomatoes
- 4 heads Little Gem lettuce (outer leaves removed)
- 2 tablespoons garlic aioli (recipe below)
- 4 slices marinated red onion (recipe below)
- 3 tablespoons softened butter
- 4 slices Robiola la Rustica (Italian cow’s milk cheese from Lombardy, Italy)
- 12 ounces seasonal truffle (black Périgord truffle; white from Alba, Italy; Burgundy)
For the marinated red onions
- 2 whole red onions
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons Banyuls vinegar
- 3 sprigs fresh thyme
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon cracked black pepper
For the truffle butter
- 1 pound softened unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons truffle salt
- 3 tablespoons finely chopped chives
For the garlic aioli
- 6 egg yolks
- Lemon juice from one lemon
- ⅔ cup garlic, finely diced
- 1 cup Dijon mustard
- 2 tablespoons kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon ground white pepper
- 2½ cups blended oil, 75% soybean/25% olive (store-bought)
- ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- Make the marinated onions. Heat oven to 375° F. Peel the onions and cut into ¼-inch slices. Place the onion slices in a large bowl and season with olive oil, vinegar, thyme, salt and pepper. Gently toss by hand while keeping the onion slices intact. Place the marinated onion slices on a parchment paper-lined sheet-pan and cook for about 30 minutes, until tender.
- Make the truffle butter. In a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the ingredients. Lay out plastic wrap. Divide butter in half. Place butter on plastic wrap and roll into logs. Store in the freezer. (Leftovers, according to Sullivan, are excellent stuffed under the skin of a chicken just before roasting.)
- Make the garlic aioli. In a food processor, mix the egg yolks, lemon juice, garlic, mustard, salt, and pepper until smooth. While the food processor is mixing, slowly add the oils. After fully combined, transfer to a sealed container and chill.
- Make the burgers. Heat grill to 350° F. Place the burger patties out on room temperature. (This will allow the meat to relax and cook evenly on the grill).
- Using a pastry brush, brush each patty with ¼ teaspoon softened butter. Season liberally with salt and pepper.
- For medium-rare, place patties on heated grill and cook for 2 minutes. Rotate each patty 90 degrees to obtain the cross-grill marks. Lower the heat, then flip the patties and repeat. Cook to desired temperature.
- While still on the grill, top each patty with ¼-inch thick medallion truffle butter and a slice of Robiola la Rustica cheese.
- Place sliced buns on the grill flat side down until golden brown.
- Spread both side of the bun with garlic aioli.
- Place the patties on the bottom buns. Top with marinated red onion, little gem lettuces, and one slice each of heirloom tomato.
- Shave 3 ounces of seasonal truffle over the burger and finish with the top bun.
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