Poor little bun…August 7, 2006
Look at the poor little bun, crushed under the weight of carmelized onions, bacon, quail egg and — let’s not forget — a big hunk of beef. Oh yeah, and cheese. Seeing what’s happened to its bottom, the top of the bun refuses to get involved with this burger.
It doesn’t look healthy right? Well, remember what Atkins said: The only thing truly bad for you in this picture IS that little bun. And it’s so puny, even Atkins couldn’t really object. (Actually, we don’t follow Atkins. We only use his philosophy when we need to rationalize consuming large quantities of meat.)
As huge as this burger looks — and really, it was only slightly bigger than a slider — it’s a peanut compared with the burger that inspired it. My husband tells you about it here:
My wife and I were in London not long ago. My parents (this will become a nebulous term the longer you read this site) are unadventurous eaters. They took us to this place near Old Bond Street called the Automat. The restaurant bills itself as an American Brasserie. It is always fun to see our cuisine (my wife and I are Americans) translated back to us. The most remarkable aspect of the meal to me was the Automat’s breakfast burger, which I ordered. The burger was so large, piled with very interesting meats and an egg, that I barely finished it. So this burger is a translation of a translation back to its native tongue. Let me know what you think.
I only had a bite of the Automat burger, but I did eat a whole one of what you see pictured above. It… was… really, really… GOOD. I enjoy bacon and eggs. I enjoy a cheeseburger with carmelized onions. Put them together (on a puny little bun), and you have quite a meal.
Here’s the directions for my hubby’s version (courtesy of my husband):
Gourmet Breakfast Burger (makes four burgers).
1 lb Ground Beef (20% Fat)
1 slice Sharp Cheddar Cheese
4 Quail Eggs
1 Medium-Sized Red Onion
4 slices bacon
2 tbsp. unsalted butter
1) Making Carmelized Onions: This is where a good deal of the remarkable sweetness comes in this dish. Slice the onion. There is no need for a fancy dice, because during the carmelization process a good deal of the moisture will render out and make even larger pieces shrink.
Heat a pan over medium heat and add the butter. Once the butter begins to froth, add the onion to the pan. Salt. Turn the heat to medium low. Of all the steps in making this burger, this is the longest. It takes about 20 minutes as the onion passes through various appearances. The first will be a sort of glassy, shiny stage, then a translucent one and, finally, a yellow to carmel stage. When it gets to the latter, remove it from the heat. This isn’t a task you need to watch over. Go do other things to prepare for the meal while your onions carmelize.
2) Making the Patties: This is really very simple. I know you can buy pre-made, but I’m not sure it’s worth it. I prefer the texture of them done by hand. I also like fresh, never frozen meat from the store rather than defrosted from the freezer.
Simply take about a 1/4 pound of the meat in the palm of your hand. Cup your other hand over top of the meat and press together. Switch hands and repeat until your patty has a nice charcoal-briquette shape. Lightly salt and pepper both sides of the meat and leave out ready to grill.
3) Fry the bacon. It should be crisp, but not burnt. I know there are lots of microwave enthusiasts out there. I just encourage you to try to fry it up on the stove.
4) Toast the hamburger buns.
5) Grill the burgers—6 minutes a side over medium heat. That gets you about medium. Add the cheese with about 90 seconds to go on the second side. Remove from the heat and let the burgers rest. While they are resting, fry the egg.
5) Fry the eggs: Quail eggs were used for size reasons over regular chicken eggs. There is no problem with using a chicken egg; it just means eggy influence will be greater. I like that, but thought big chicken eggs made for a lesser presentation.
Place a skillet (preferably non-stick) over medium heat. Add butter, let it melt. Once the butter has melted add an egg. Let it fry. Lightly salt. No need to flip. Just gently run the egg off onto the burger. Repeat three more times.
6) Sandwich construction: On the bottom part of the bun, spread a nice layer of dijon mustard along with the slice of bacon broken in two. Place the meat with the egg atop gently on top. On the top of the bun, layer on a nice pile of the carmelized onions and serve.