It's juicy, rich, and perfectly seasoned. Chef Gabrielle Hamilton shares the only burger recipe you'll ever need.
The only problem with putting a good burger on your restaurant's menu is that you suddenly become a burger joint, and if you have any inflated ideas of yourself as a chef, this can mess with them. As you hunch over the counter in your chef's whites - with your apron neatly tied, your side towel folded just so, your tasting spoons glinting in front of you - and you fill your 30th ramekin of ketchup, you think, "Hmm. This is not exactly what I had pictured for myself." But the home cook will not suffer this existential setback for the few occasions in a year when you make yourself a burger, and this one is a genuine knockout. The addition of lamb to the not-too-lean chuck gives the burger a discernible gamey richness and helps deepen the flavor of ground beef, which on its own can be slightly tinny and mineral-tasting from the iron - especially true of grass-fed beef. The parsley-shallot butter takes the "joint" right out of this burger and puts it in the restaurant league.
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2 cloves garlic
¾ cups peeled and roughly chopped shallots
2 cups picked, clean parsley leaves
3½ teaspoons coarse kosher salt (do not use fine iodized salt)
1 pound unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch cubes, at room temperature
1 pound excellent-quality ground chuck
½ pound excellent-quality ground lamb
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 ounces sharp white cheddar (sliced into 4 slices)
Thomas' Original sandwich-size English muffins
In a food processor, chop the garlic and shallots finely. Add parsley leaves and 1½ teaspoons salt, and also process to fine. Add butter and process to smooth and emerald-green.
Run your hands under very cold water for a minute - this will keep the meat from getting gummy - then gently combine the two meats. Divide the meat into four equal portions (six ounces each), then gently form into patties that are 1¼ inches thick and three inches in diameter. Season each patty all over - top, bottom, and the circumference - with ½ teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon black pepper. Touch the patties as tenderly and as little as possible - the more you manhandle and compact the meat, the tougher it becomes.
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Heat a cast-iron skillet on low heat for two minutes, then increase the heat to medium-high, add 1 tablespoon oil, and place patties in pan. Cover with a splatter screen, if you own one, to minimize the mess on your stove top. Cook for seven minutes on one side, flip, and cook for five more minutes. Do not turn, touch, press down on, or otherwise molest the burgers while they are cooking. Place cheese on top and either place in a hot oven or under the broiler until the cheese is just melted but not liquefied.
Split four of the English muffins by deeply pricking them along the horizontal seam with the tines of a dinner fork. Toast well and generously smear both the tops and the bottoms with the room-temperature parsley-shallot butter, "wall to wall" as we say at Prune, so that every bite will be seasoned and not just the center ones. (The remaining butter can be refrigerated for up to a week or frozen for up to six weeks-it is delicious on everything from toast to steak.) Place the burgers on the bottoms and close with the buttered English muffin lids.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story misstated the amount of salt needed in the recipe; we regret the error.
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