May 29, 2013

The Perfect Burger

$100,000 Burger aka
7 Train Caramelized Green Curry Burgers with Crispy Watercress Salad, Roasted Cashews, and Minted Basil Aioli

In our household the debate about how to prepare the "perfect" burger carries on. We came close to perfection here with an approach that abides by the principle -- the simpler, the better. Minimal handling of the meat, no frills and additives to the beef, just a bit of salt right before they hit the grill, et voila. We really thought we were onto something here, until we stumbled across this article -- What does a $100,000 burger taste like? If our burger recipe calls for simplicity, this promotes the opposite. I have not yet had a chance to try this at home, but I share the recipe for those curious about what a $100,000 burger looks like. 

Recipe by Erin Evenson


Green Curry Glaze
1 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
3 tbsp fresh grated ginger
2 jalapeno chiles, stemmed and coarsely chopped
2 fresh kaffir lime leaves
1 stalk lemongrass, outer layers discarded, crushed with the back of a knife and chopped
1/3 cup coconut milk
1/3 cup low sodium soy sauce
3 tbsp honey
2 tbsp toasted sesame seeds
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp kosher salt

Minted Basil Aioli
1 cup mayo
3 cloves garlic
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves
1/2 cup fresh mint leaves

6 slices pancetta

Crispy Watercress Salad
3.5 cups canola oil
1 cup rice flour
1 cup chilled seltzer water
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 heads young watercress, stems trimmed
3 shallots, thinly sliced
zest and juice of 1 lime
1 tbsp unseasoned rice vinegar
2 tsp Thai fish sauce (low-sodium)
1/2 tsp sugar
1 tsp sriracha

Burger Patties
2 lbs ground chuck
fat from cooking pancetta

vegetable oil for brushing grill rack

6 French sandwich rolls, split
1 1/4 cups chopped roasted salted cashews

yield: 6 burgers

1. light grill and let heat settle to medium

2. to make the glaze, combine all ingredients in a blender and blend until completely pureed. pass the mixture once through a sieve to remove any chunks, and set aside.

3. the make the aioli, combine all of the ingredients in a food processor and pulse until smooth. transfer to a bowl, and refrigerate until ready to serve the burgers.

4. place a large cast iron skillet on the grill. add the pancetta and cook until crisp, about 7-8 minutes. transfer the pancetta to paper towels to drain and pour the fat from the skillet into a large bowl. reserve for later.

5. to make the salad, return the skillet to the grill, add the canola oil, and heat until shimmering. combine the flour, seltzer water, baking powder, salt and pepper in a large bowl, whisk to blend. add the watercress and stir to coat. 

6. add the shallots to the hot oil and fry until golden brown and crisp, 30 to 45 seconds. transfer to a paper towel to drain. working in small batches, remove the watercress from the batter, allowing excess batter to drip back into the bowl. fry until golden brown and crisp, 45 to 50 seconds. transfer to paper towels to drain.

7. in a small bowl, whisk together the lime zest and juice, vinegar, fish sauce, sugar and sriracha until combined. set aside.

8. to make the patties, add the chuck to the bowl containing the reserved pancetta fat. combine using your hands. form the meat into 6 equal patties.

9. brush the grill rack with vegetable oil. place the patties on the grill and cook for 4-5 minutes, or until juices begin emerging from the top of the patties. baste the patties liberally with the glaze, flip the patties, and douse the other sides of the patties with the remaining glaze. grill the other side for 4-5 longer (for medium-rare, long for desired doneness). transfer the patties to a plate to rest while assembling the other ingredients.

10. grill the rolls, cut side down, until they are lightly toasted. spread the cashews on a plate. spread the cut sides of the buns with aioli and dip each roll top, aioli side down into the cashews, pressing gently to make sure the cashews adhere.

11. to assemble the burgers, combine the fried shallots and watercress in a large bowl and toss to combine. drizzle the lime dressing over the mixture and toss again. place a pancetta slice on each bottom bun, followed by a patty. place a mound of the watercress salad atop each patty. finally, top each burger with the cashew-aioli buger tops.

12. serve immediately!


  1. Drool! But why $100,000? Its a highly complicated recipe for burgers, but the ingredients themselves aren't expensive. I've heard of "the most expensive burger in the world" on some food network show, made with kobe beef and topped with foie gras and gold leaf, but this doesn't sound that expensive.

    1. $100,000 was the cash prize for this one in Sutter Home's 2012 Build a Better Burger contest

  2. we should try this recipe some time!