The Messiest, Juiciest, Sauciest Burger You Can Make at Home

Brasserie Laurel’s Burger au Poivre was a staff-meal favorite before it hit the menu, and we scored the recipe

August 22, 2023 7:13 am
It doesn't get saucier than Brasserie Laurel's Burger au Poivre.
It doesn't get saucier than Brasserie Laurel's Burger au Poivre.
Brasserie Laurel

We’ve all heard the adage that necessity is the mother of invention, and nowhere is the cliché tastier than in the hands of a hungry, post-service chef. It was this constellation of circumstances that paved the way for the creation of Brasserie Laurel’s Burger au Poivre, a now-beloved menu item that got its start behind the line.

“We had au poivre sauce on the menu here already, and the chefs ate it with a burger after service,” recalls chef Ashley Moncada. These days, she says, “it’s kind of our version of a French dip sandwich.”

The brasserie’s French influences are palpable in the resulting recipe, which features Dijon mustard, Gruyère cheese, loads of fresh herbs and deeply caramelized onions. Don’t give into the temptation of rushing these; Moncada says that the biggest mistake people make when caramelizing onions is “not cooking them slow enough or for long enough.” At Brasserie Laurel, that means “around eight hours” for onions that are deeply golden brown.

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To make it worth your while, make a big batch in a smallish pot, which will cut down on the risk of burning them, she says, and keep some water nearby to help bring up the fond should ever they catch or stick. The resulting onions can be used in anything from crostini to simple pasta with butter to add umami-laced sweetness. In the case of the burger, they serve to counterbalance the rich, savory au poivre sauce, which is infused with two kinds of peppercorns, flambéed with cognac and fortified with veal jus. (You can find this ultra-reduced veal stock on Amazon or at a good butchershop.) It’s the crowning glory smothering two smashed patties — Moncada’s preferred burger format in any case, but particularly here. 

“Because it is smothered in sauce,” she says, “it’s nice to have the crisp patty, opposed to a thicker, juicy patty.”

Let’s be clear: This is a messy bugger. In fact, according to Moncada, rather than attempting to pick it up, you’d be better off doing as the French do and pulling out the cutlery.

Brasserie Laurel's Burger au Poivre

Servings: 2

  • For the burger:
  • 2 3 ½-oz. ground beef patties
  • 1 brioche bun
  • ½ cup caramelized onions
  • ½ tbsp. Dijon mustard
  • 2 ½-oz. slices Gruyère cheese
  • 1 tsp. chives
  • 1 tsp. parsley
  • 1 tsp. tarragon
  • 1 tsp. chervil
  • For the au poivre sauce:
  • ½ shallot, minced
  • 1 tsp. vegetable oil
  • 1½ oz. green peppercorns
  • 1 oz. black peppercorns
  • 1 ½ oz. cognac
  • 1 sprig thyme
  • 2 cups cream
  • ½ cup veal jus
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
    1. Make the sauce. Sweat the shallots in the oil, then add the peppercorns and toast. Deglaze with the cognac and flambé. (If it doesn’t light or you don’t have gas, use a stick lighter to light it to burn off the alcohol.) When the flames have gone out, add the thyme and cream, and bring to a simmer. Reduce by half, taking care not to boil; if the sauce boils, the cream will split. Stir in the veal jus and set aside.

    2. Heat a hot frying pan (or flat top) and smash the beef patties on it until thin — a half-centimeter max. (You can do this using the bottom of another smaller pan.) Season with salt, and once they have formed a nice crust on the bottom, flip using a spatula and immediately top with Gruyère.

    3. Season the warm sauce with the herbs (chives, parsley, tarragon, chervil) and toast the brioche bun.

    4. Spread Dijon mustard on the bottom brioche bun and top with caramelized onions. Stack the burger patties on top. Place the burger on the plate and douse with the sauce. Top with the top bun and enjoy.


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