Food & Drink | July 5, 2022 7:00 am

You’re Going to Need a Lot of Napkins When You Make Dirty Habit’s Half-Pound Burger

50% chuck, 50% short rib, 100% delicious

Dirty Habit Burger
Dirty Habit Burger
Dirty Habit

Chef Edgar Escalante grew up in Mexico City and spent his early years working at his family’s Italian restaurant before venturing to Spain to work in Michelin-starred kitchens. All of these experiences have informed his approach to the menu at Dirty Habit, where he also never shies away from putting his own spin on classics from as far afield as Japan or as close to home as the USA.

Take his signature burger, for instance, which begins with a bun sure to be a conversation starter: Made with the tangzhong (or water roux) that lends such a light, fluffy texture to Japan’s milk breads, the pillowy brioche base also boasts a deep, dark color thanks to the addition of activated charcoal. 

A black bun as soft and light as this one is the key, according to Escalante, to marrying the “edginess” and “simple and classy” appeal he looks for when crafting new dishes for his menu.

More importantly, however, the bun is the perfect base for the pièce de résistance: a whopping half-pound Angus beef burger patty made of a 50-50 blend of short rib and chuck.

“I always go 50/50, so you can get both flavors,” Escalante says. “You get juiciness, and that fat content just makes it perfect. They’re simply really tender.”

The patty is pan-seared in cast iron before being topped with sliced cheddar cheese. A touch of mayo adds even more richness – Escalante prefers Japanese kewpie mayo, which, he notes, uses only egg yolks instead of whole eggs for a “worthy” addition to the hearty burger. A little bit of mizuna, meanwhile, adds balance and brightness, but if you can’t find it, the chef says arugula is a fine substitute to get a similar “earthy, mustardy flavor.”

To finish things off, an egg is fried for three minutes precisely, which Escalante says will ensure it’s “gooey and can run all over the burger” for a sandwich that more than earns its “dirty” title.

Dirty Habit Burger

Serves 4

Ingredients:

For the tangzhong

  • 60 grams (about ½ cup) flour
  • 81 grams (about ⅓ cup) water
  • 180 grams (about ¾ cup) whole milk

For the charcoal buns (Note: This recipe makes 20 buns; feel free to bake them off and freeze some, tightly wrapped, for a later use.)

  • 27 grams (3 tablespoons) instant yeast
  • 960 grams (7⅔ cups) flour
  • 3 tablespoons bamboo charcoal
  • 105 grams (about ½ cup) sugar
  • 360 grams (about 1½ cups) whole milk
  • 3 eggs
  • 126 grams (about 9 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted
  • 24.5 grams (4⅓ teaspoons) salt
  • 1 egg yolk, for egg wash
  • Whole milk, for egg wash

For the burgers

  • 1 pound ground Angus beef chuck
  • 1 pound ground short rib
  • 4 ounces aged cheddar cheese, sliced
  • 4 eggs
  • Oil
  • Butter
  • Kewpie
  • Mizuna or arugula, for garnish
  • Salt and pepper

Directions:

  1. First, make the tanzhong. In a pot, combine the flour, milk, and water. Bring to a simmer, and cook, stirring occasionally, until a thick paste forms, similar to a roux.
  2. Make the dough. Combine the yeast, flour, charcoal, and sugar. Warm the milk to about 95º F, and combine with the tanzhong. Add the mixture to the dry ingredients and stir until combined. Add the eggs and butter, and mix to combine. Add the salt, and knead until elastic. Roll the dough into a ball, cover with a dishtowel, and let rest for 1 to 1½ hours, until doubled in size. 
  3. Preheat the oven to 330º F. Make an egg wash by combining the egg yolk and milk. Form the dough into 20 95-gram buns, and brush with egg wash. Lay on a baking sheet and bake at 330º F for 13 minutes. Set the buns aside to cool.
  4. Make the burgers by combining the ground short rib and chuck. Season well with salt and pepper, and form 8-ounce patties. Cook in a hot cast iron pan in vegetable oil for about 4 minutes, then flip. Add a slice of cheddar cheese to each burger, and cook for 4 minutes more. Set aside on a rack.
  5. Heat more canola oil and fry the eggs for 3 minutes. Set an egg on each burger patty.
  6. Split the buns and butter them. Toast in a pan until crisp, then brush with mayonnaise. Add the patty, top with the greens of your choice, and serve.