Masterclass – Burgers by Bar Boulud

23 November 2012
Masterclass – Burgers by Bar Boulud

Who ever thought the burger would become so de rigueur? Michael Raffael finds out how to prepare the beef-based culinary stars at London restaurants Bar Boulud and Hawksmoor

A random Google search will show how many bloggers are posting their top 10 favourites. There's no shortage of opinions. What they are all looking for as their ideal is the perfect package - perfect beef, perfect bun and all the trimmings, dished up promptly. It's not fast food, but it is easy eating without any hint of pretentiousness.

This current enthusiasm mirrors the experience of New Yorkers over a decade ago, one that is still going strong. Then, Daniel Boulud latched on to the potential of applying his 
classical French skill to the burger business and what resulted was a cult following of the db Burger at db Bistro Moderne, and today Boulud also serves twists on the American classic at DBGB Kitchen and Bar. When he came to London two-and-a-half years ago to open Bar Boulud at the Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park, he already had a proven winner. His in-house recipe covers all the bases from the butchery and the bakery to the slickest of US service.

Kitchen-dining room partnership However good the basic burger recipe is, the key is putting it in front of the customer as soon after it's as ready as possible. It's not something that eats well when it's warm. Add to this the fact that it's being prepared quite rare for some customers and it could easily lose its edge.

The restaurant operates an ordering system designed to prevent lapses between kitchen and dining room. If an order comes in without a starter the ticket goes directly to the burger station that starts cooking it to order. If there's a starter ordered, a "fire" message passes to the kitchen as soon as the starter has been cleared and the burger-making process kicks off.

As well as the chef on the pass, the restaurant has an expeditor on the dining room side who manages the runners charged with taking the food to the different stations in the room.

There's a different service rhythm between lunch and dinner and also at weekends, when there are families wanting to be served quickly.

!Bar Boulud](
 Bar Boulud burgers Yankee £11.75 or £12.75 with cheese Frenchie £12.75 with confit belly of pork, rocket, tomato compote and Morbier cheese Piggie £12.75 with barbecued pulled pork, chilli mayo, bib lettuce, red cabbage slaw and Cheddar Burgers are geared to yield a 70% GP Beef patty: Serving size 200g Batch size and ingredients Bar Boulud is working with a batch size based on 30kg of chuck steak. Yield: 150 portions. Here, the recipe is based on 3kg of untrimmed meat. The kitchen buys Castle of Mey, aged Aberdeen Angus Cross chuck steak (grass and silage fed from the North of Scotland). This is a boned fore-quarter joint that may include the back ribs. It's the cut that chefs associate with braising, as per steak and kidney. Butchery and mincing The aim is to remove all sinews, which will affect the texture of the ground beef. This trimming stage reflects French rather than US or UK butchery techniques. It produces what is known as steak haché. The difference is that the butcher at Bar Boulud adds a little hard beef fat to the lean meat when mincing in order to produce a beef patty with a 15-20% fat content. The exact amount of fat added will depend on how much intramuscular fat is in the lean meat. For 15 patties: 3kg untrimmed chuck, about 200g hard beef fat (equivalent to back-fat on 
a pig). To trim a whole chuck of beef, work with the natural seams in the meat and trim any sinew (silverskin). Before starting the grind process, ensure that the meat is chilled to a temperature between 2°C and 4°C. Feed the lean, trimmed chuck and strips of fat through the mincer (6mm blade). When putting it through, don't force it with the 
pestle. Refrigerate the first mince for about 20 minutes, before putting it through the mincer again. Note When working with a large batch, Bar Boulud's butcher is ready to start on the second mincing immediately after finishing the first one. Forming Shape the burgers by hand. Prepare trays covered in "peach paper", a butcher's paper that's designed to keep the meat with which it comes into contact fresh without discolouring or dripping. Use a standard, 10cm hoop for shaping the patty. Weigh 200g and form into a ball in the hand. Put the hoop on a stainless steel surface. Fit the meat into it. Press it in well with the heel of the hand. Give the hoop a sharp twist so that the meat won't stick to the surface. Transfer the patty to the prepared tray. Refrigerate the batch until use (about 10 hours). This allows the burgers to dry out. Time According to executive chef Dean Yasharian, his most experienced butcher can prepare a full 30kg batch of burgers in under two hours. The Boulud bun Made in house, it's an enriched bread dough, similar to a brioche. Because the restaurant prepares about 150 buns a day and needs perfect consistency, it uses a machine to scale and form the buns. Below is the recipe scaled back to 15 portions. Ingredients 18g fresh yeast 229g water at 38-42°C 9g salt 540g T45 flour 30g caster sugar 65g egg 97g unsalted butter Egg-wash 50-50 milk and egg Sesame seeds Method Make a straight dough. Dissolve the yeast in a little of the water. Combine all the ingredients in a mixing bowl with a dough hook attachment and knead to a smooth elastic dough. Prove, knock back, scale and shape. Place on a prepared baking sheet. Allow to rise, brush with egg wash and sprinkle generously with sesame seeds. Bake for 30 minutes at 180°C. Transfer at once to cool on trays and leave overnight before use. Grilling and building Bar Boulud has a Molteni chargrill for grilling its burgers. (Serves one) 1 x 200g burger Salt and ground black pepper mix Oil (optional) 1 bun 1 slice 12cm x 12cm Montgomery's mild Cheddar Beef tomato slice Torn or shredded iceberg lettuce Red onion rings Pickled cucumber \[see below\] Season the burger generously on both sides, because the patty contains no salt. Start to grill it. If the preparation is done well, the burger won't stick to the grilles, but a touch of oil is a practical fail-safe measure. Flip the meat a couple of times to mark it, but the object is to achieve a caramelised surface rather than a charred one. While the meat is broiling, split open the bun and toast it on a griddle. After the meat is cooked to the required degree, take it off the grill and rest it before adding the cheese. Put the patty on the grill and lay the cheese on it to start it melting and finish with a few seconds in a very hot oven. Melt the cheese as close to service as possible to achieve the desired toasted cheese effect. To assemble, put the burger on to the bottom half of the toasted bun, then the tomato, lettuce, onion and cucumber, finishing with the top of the bun. Fasten the burger with wooden skewer. Pickled cucumbers The house recipe is an adaptation of a Japanese recipe. Ingredients 2 English cucumbers 500ml rice wine vinegar 15g salt 100g sugar 1 bunch dill Method With a mandoline, cut cucumbers into 1/2cm slices into a heat-proof container. In a saucepan, simmer vinegar, salt and sugar until dissolved and immediately pour over cucumbers. Stir in dill, cover and cool at room temperature. Refrigerate for two hours or up to two weeks. Ketchup comes separately for customers to help themselves. Times and core temperatures The times and temperatures are printed on a wall by the burger station. They give an indication to the chefs, but eye and feel become second nature. Time will vary in other kitchens according to the heat generated by the grill. 50°C-52°C medium rare 7.5 minutes 54°C-56°C medium 9 minutes 60°C-62°C medium-well done 10.5 minutes 72°+ well done 14.5 minutes In practical terms few customers want burgers cooked less than 50°C and the blood isn't apparent above 70°C Tricks â- Work with chilled beef â- Don't force meat through the mincer â- Always put the fresh patties on professional peach paper â- Set up a system that lets both the meat and the bun "dry out" prior to cooking ![]( BOULUD'S A-TEAM If the recipe owes its origin to Daniel Boulud himself, its application and success in the UK is down to his lieutenants here: executive chef Dean Yasharian, manager Juan Ramirez (right) and maÁ®tre d' Paulo de Tarso (left). The first two have almost 15 years' experience working for Boulud, in his New York restaurants and bars. De Tarso's role is about applying local knowledge. The biggest difference Ramirez has noticed is in the speed at which Londoners eat. While lunches and dinners don't have the same buzz, New Yorkers are always in a hurry. If they dine at 9pm, it's because they are going on to something else. De Tarso says that more than half his customers tackle the burger with a knife and fork. He's delighted when they pick it up with their hands. That may be a good idea for some, but he's well aware that many arrive wearing their best party frocks.    ![]('S BURGERSIf there were a cult to beefsteak, Hawksmoor would be its high priest. The company founded by Huw Gott and Will Beckett six years ago converted Londoners who thought grilled meat was boring. With the help of head chef Richard Turner (left) they have expanded to three restaurants: Spitalfields, Guildhall and Seven Dials. A fourth, with Mitch Tonks, combining beef/meat and fish elements, has just opened in Air Street. There's no secret behind the formula. The meat comes from Ginger Pig's Longhorn and Galloway cattle reared on the Yorkshire Moors. It's at least two years old before slaughter in conditions that minimize stress. The carcasses hang for a minimum 35 days before they are butchered. For its burgers Hawksmoor will use fore-quarter cuts, but will add the tail end of the fillet or lean trimmings from the rump to the mince. It aims to obtain patties with a 20% fat content. To achieve this it adds a quantity of bone marrow to the mix, a point it highlights on its menu. Burgers (twice minced with a 6mm blade) are formed into loose-textured patties weighing 225g each, raw weight. A key attraction of Hawksmoor beef is that its meat should have a chewy texture. It isn't soft like US prime graded beef, which has more marbling than the typical British palate appreciates. There's no soul-searching about the burgers' "doneness". Customers have the choice of pink and well-done. The standard Hawksmoor cheeseburger does give a choice of cheeses: Colston Bassett, Stilton or Ogleshield. The latter, made by Montgomery, the farmhouse Cheddar specialist, melts like French raclette. Turner - ex-Marco, ex-Gavroche - has the task of devising new things to put in the burger. His current menu includes a kimchi burger - kimchi is a fermented cabbage that's a standard flavouring ingredient in Korean food. The same burger has a coating of braised beef shortrib between the patty and the top of the bun. At the Seven Dials branch there's a "third burger" that changes every month. It might be mushroom and two kinds or cheese or Turner's favourite "umami burger". He packs this with all the ingredients - anchovy, Parmesan, soy, etc - known to deliver the special fifth flavour hit. At £15 each, including triple-cooked chips fried in beef dripping or a herb salad, Hawksmoor's burgers represent a substantial all-in-one meal.
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