“Burgers aren’t hard,” says Joey Altman, culinary director and executive chef of Hazie’s in Hayes Valley. “It’s really all about the quality of the ingredients and a few simple cooking techniques.” It all starts with the beef: freshly ground all-natural Black Angus. Altman opts for a blend of chuck and brisket with 15% fat for the ideal rich flavor and texture.
“I season the burgers somewhat generously with salt and pepper to make sure the patty is the star,” Altman says. The patty is griddled over high heat and nestled on a butter-toasted ciabatta bun that boasts the ideal pillowy texture. “I toast the buns on a griddle, so the inside becomes a bit crispy, which prevents the sauce from sogging out the bun,” he says. “It’s a good alternative to using a toaster or an oven which may dry the buns out.” Red onions make an appearance in two different forms: caramelized bring a touch of sweetness and depth, while pickled rings lend a lovely acidity to the sandwich, cutting through the richness of the beef, cheese and sauce.
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These latter two components are both inspired by France — unsurprising, perhaps, given Altman’s training under Bernard Constantin at the Hotel La Rivoire in Lyon and Jean Brouilly at Tarare in Brittany. “After trying a variety of cheeses, I landed on Brie because its creamy texture and its tangy flavor cuts through the rich beefy flavor of the burger,” he says. He cuts the Brie into thick slices, which maintain some of their creamy texture even as they melt into a luscious, oozy topping. House-made aioli, meanwhile, brings even more richness to the party, not to mention a hint of spice from Dijon mustard and the allium kick of garlic, rendered more subtle thanks to a long roast to bring out all of its natural sweetness. Any leftover aioli, Altman says, makes a great dip for crudité or a zingy base for egg or chicken salad.
He serves tomato, Little Gem lettuce and bread-and-butter pickles on the side so that each diner can dress their burger as they see fit. “Altogether, my burger packs a lot of flavors without any one component overshadowing the great flavor of the beef,” Altman says.
- 2 red onions
- 1 lemon, juiced
- 2 Tbsp. olive oil
- 3 lbs. freshly ground, all-natural, Black Angus beef (chuck-brisket blend, 15% fat), divided into 8 oz. portions
- 6 ciabatta hamburger buns
- 2-3 Tbsp. melted or soft butter for toasting the buns
- 12 oz. Brie cheese, sliced into ¼”-thick slices
- Tomato, sliced (optional)
- Little Gem lettuce leaves (optional)
- Bread-and-butter pickles (optional)
- Kosher salt and fresh black pepper, to taste
- Roasted garlic aioli (recipe below)
Begin by thinly slicing the first red onion. Toss in the juice of 1 lemon, plus a pinch of salt and black pepper. Allow to marinate for at least 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, thinly slice the second red onion. In a skillet over medium heat, combine the onions, olive oil and 1 tsp. kosher salt. Caramelize, stirring often, for about 10 to 15 minutes.
Season the burger patties with salt and pepper. Grill or sear on a griddle or cast iron skillet to your desired doneness. During the last minute of cooking, top burgers with sliced Brie cheese.
Remove from the griddle or pan and allow to rest briefly. While the burgers are resting, brush the inside of the burger buns with the butter and toast, cut side down, on a medium hot griddle or cast iron skillet until golden brown.
Smear the inside of both the top and bottom buns with roasted garlic aioli. Place the burgers on the bottom bun, then top with a spoonful of the caramelized onions. Add the top half of the bun. Serve with lettuce, sliced tomatoes, pickled red onions and bread-and-butter pickles on the side for your guests to customize as they like.
Roasted Garlic Aioli
Servings: About 1 cup
- ½ cup garlic cloves
- ½ cup olive oil
- 1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
- Juice of 1 lemon
- ½ cup mayonnaise
Preheat the oven to 325º Fahrenheit. Place the garlic and oil in a small baking dish and cover with parchment paper and aluminum foil. Bake for 30 minutes.
Allow the garlic to cool, then puree the garlic and oil in a food processor with the remaining ingredients. Season to taste.
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