"Freddar" is Fred Smith's take on American cheese, and this recipe showcases it like nothing else in the book. It was inspired by the burger at Father's Office in Santa Monica, Los Angeles, which is served in a baguette with rocket. We were suspicious at first, but we had to admit it was the best burger we had enjoyed in the city.
- 1 medium onion, peeled and very finely diced
- 4 x 180g hamburger
- 4 hot dog buns, halved lengthways
- 1⁄3 Iceberg lettuce, finely shredded
- 4tsp Byron sauce
- 1 large gherkin, sliced
- American mustard
- 4 homemade cheese slices
- 16 slices of crispy pancetta, finely chopped
- 4 gherkin spears
For the hamburger
Grinding the meat: grind the meat on the day you intend to use it. Use chuck steak, ground twice through a 4mm-6mm plate. To mince beef at home, cut the chuck steak into 1cm cubes and place in the freezer for 15-20 minutes to make sure it is very cold. You can also put the mincer in the freezer.
Forming the patties: divide the mince into 180g portions and roll by hand into balls. Shape the mince by hand into an even patty about 12cm wide and 1.5cm thick or use a burger press that will give you a 11cm-12cm wide burger.
Chilling: store the patties separated by squares of greaseproof paper. Wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour before cooking.
For the cheese slices
Makes 14-16 slices
- 200ml double cream
- 12 slices of American cheese (240g)
- 75g Cheddar cheese, grated
- 90g Parmesan cheese, finely grated
Heat the cream in a medium saucepan until steaming. Add the American cheese, Cheddar and Parmesan and beat with a fork or balloon whisk over a low heat until the cheese has melted and the sauce is smooth. Do not let the mixture boil.
Remove from the heat and pour the mixture onto a large sheet of non-stick parchment paper. Cover with another sheet of the same size. Gently roll out the mixture, until 5mm thick.
Leave to cool, then transfer to the fridge on a tray and chill until set. Remove the cheese from the fridge and cut into pieces suitable for hamburgers, cutting through the paper so that each slice is still sandwiched in paper.
The cheese slices are ready to use, or you can store them in the fridge for up to three days, or well wrapped in the freezer for up to one month.
For the Byron sauce
- 150g mayonnaise
- 75g tomato ketchup
- 35g pickled gherkins, drained
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
In a medium bowl, mix the mayonnaise and ketchup.
Very finely chop the drained gherkins and add to the bowl with a pinch of salt and pepper. Mix until everything is evenly distributed. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary.
Use immediately or refrigerate in an airtight container for up to one week.
Bring a medium saucepan of water to the boil and add the diced onion. Simmer for 10 seconds, then drain through a sieve. Run the onions under a cold tap until cool. Preheat the grill to high.
A heavy, non-stick frying pan is best. Heat the pan for at least 4-5 minutes over a medium-high heat. It is worth getting the pan super-hot.
Season the patties generously on both sides. Place the patty in the pan and gently push the centre down as it hits the pan to prevent curling and maximise caramelisation.
Cook in batches and make sure the burgers do not touch. Turn the patty three times in total: once every minute or so. When you start to see little drops of pink juice forming on the surface, cook for a further minute and then serve immediately.
Meanwhile, toast or grill the cut sides of the hot dog buns. Place the shredded lettuce on the bottom halves of the buns and top with a spoonful of the onions and a teaspoon of the Byron Sauce.
Drizzle American mustard over the top halves of the buns and add the sliced gherkin. When the hamburgers are cooked, transfer to a small roasting tray. Top each one with a homemade cheese slice. Place under the hot grill on the highest shelf. Watch carefully and remove the tray from under the grill as soon as the cheese has melted.
Cut the cheese-topped hamburgers in half and place on the bottom halves of the hot dog buns. Sprinkle the crispy pancetta over the hamburgers and fold the burger dogs together. Serve with a gherkin spear on the side.
Recipes taken from Byron: The Cookbook by Tom Byng and Fred Smith. Photography by Martin Poole
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