1, Sep 2008
The Original Drive-In Burger

This is a recipe from Cook’s Illustrated (July, 2008) for “the perfect drive-in burger”. It’s a great burger, very different from your typical grilled burger (which can also be great, of course). The only drawback is what a makes of the frying pan, spattering grease everywhere — next time, we’ll see if it cooks up as well in a nonstick pan as it does in a heavier pan. Anyway, I’m putting here because I’m reusing some of the techniques. For example, I’m reusing their ground beef idea (they freeze cubes of sirloin and boneless short ribs, pulse them in a food processor, then handle them very lightly to get the perfect flavor and texture) for chili (successful recipe to follow, I hope).

10 oz sirloin steak tips, cut into 1-inch chunks
6 oz boneless beef short ribs, cut into 1-inch chunks
kosher salt
ground black pepper
4 soft hamburger buns
1 tbsp unsalted butter
1/2 tsp vegetable oil
4 slices american cheese
thinly-sliced onion

Place beef chunks on a baking sheet, leaving space around each chunk. Freeze 15-25 minutes until starting to harden but still pliable. Place half of meat in food processor and pulse until coarsely ground, 10-15 1-second pulses, stopping and redistributing meat around bowl as necessary to ensure even ground. Transfer meat to baking sheet, overturning bowl and without directly touching meat. Repeat with remaining meat. Spread meat over sheet and inspect, discarding any long strands of gristle or large chunks of meat or fat.
Gently separate into 4 equal mounds. Without picking meat up, shape each mound into a loose patty 1/2″ thick and 4″ in diameter, leaving edges and surface ragged. Season top of each patty with salt and pepper. Using spatula, flip patties and season other side. Refrigerate while toasting buns.
Melt 1/2 tsp butter in heavy-bottomed 12″ skillet over medium heat until foaming. Add bun tops, cut side down, and toast until light golden brown, about 2 minutes. Repeat with more butter and bun bottoms. Set buns aside and wipe out skilled with paper towels.
Return skillet to high heat; add oil and heat until just smoking. Using spatula, transfer burgers to skillet and cook without moving for 3 minutes. Using spatula, flip burgers over and cook for 1 minute. Top each patty with slice of cheese and continue to cook until cheese is melted, about 1 minute longer.
Transfer patties to bun bottoms and top with onion. Add condiments, cover, and serve.