The perfect American diner hamburger hails from France. Say what!
Burger. Hamburger. Call it what you want but it is well known throughout the world. Just the name alone brings to mind moist and delicious ground beef with a slight charred crust encasing the patty (which adds a nice texture). Usually topped with onions, cheese and ketchup (or mayonnaise). Serve on a sesame or poppy seed roll. Most of the time they are cooked on a grill but not this recipe. This one hails from France and was pickup by most American diners, dives and drive-in’s.
This recipe is reminiscent to most griddle/skillet-cooked burgers cooked in your local diner. The burger will have a nice crust and yet be very moist and tender inside. Topped with a fantastic sauce made from the pan juices and charred morsels clinging to the pan.
Did You Know?
The French call the hamburger “bifteck hache”. According to Julia Child, “the French hamburger is an excellent and relatively economical main course for an informal party.” In France? Hamburgers with red wine at a party? What about the French haute cuisine? SACREBLEU!
The below recipe is a spin off of Julia Child’s ground beef with onions and herbs recipe. I hope you enjoy it.
For six burgers
For this recipe get the leanest ground beef you can find. Usually it’s sirloin beef.
1 ½ lbs. lean, ground beef
1 medium yellow onion, sliced thin
5 Tbsp. softened unsalted butter
1 ½ tsp. kosher salt
¼ tsp. fresh ground black pepper
¼ tsp. dried thyme
1 large egg
½ cup all purpose flour
¼ tsp. dried thyme
1 Tbsp. olive oil
½ cup dry vermouth
6 poppy or sesame rolls
In a mixing bowl, add the ground beef, 2 Tbsp.’s of butter, kosher salt, black pepper, thyme and the egg together and mix well with your hands. Blend thoroughly. Form into patties ¾ inch thick. Cover with wax paper and refrigerate until ready to use.
Slowly sauté the sliced onion with 2 Tbsp.’s of butter over medium heat until they are tender but not brown. Cover and set aside in a small bowl to serve later.
Remove the burgers from the refrigerator.
Pour the flour into a plate and dredge the patties in the flour just before sautéing. Shake off the excess flour.
Place 1Tbsp of butter and 1 Tbsp. of olive oil in the skillet (cast iron preferably) over medium high heat
When you see the butter foam begin to subside (this indicates it is hot enough to sear the burgers to form the crust), sauté the patties for 3 – 4 minutes each side. Set the burgers in a platter and loosely cover with tin foil (if you like, you can add cheese to the burgers while they are covered)
Pour all but 1 tsp. of the remaining pan juices from the skillet. DO NOT SCRAPE OFF ANY PIECES CLINGING TO THE SKILLET. This is pure flavor. Over medium high heat pour the remaining 1 tsp. of pan juices and the ½ cup of dry vermouth into the skillet and scrape up the pieces clinging to the skillet for a minute. This is called deglazing. Be careful! Bring to a boil and reduce the liquid down to 3 Tbsp (or by half if your not comfortable reducing that far down). DO NOT BURN THE SAUCE!
Remove the skillet and swirl in the remaining butter by half-tablespoons until fully melted. Season to taste.
Place the burgers in the rolls. Top with the sautéed onions and drizzle the sauce over the hamburgers. No ketchup is needed. Trust me.