Like John T. Edge, director of the Southern Foodways Alliance and author of Ã¢â‚¬Å“Hamburgers & Fries,Ã¢â‚¬ we are partial to the pimento cheese burger, pictured above. Ã‚ According to Edge, Ã¢â‚¬Å“the true citadelÃ¢â‚¬ of the pimento burger is Columbia, South Carolina, where Ã¢â‚¬Å“every third jointÃ¢â‚¬ serves one. You can make one of your own with Blackberry FarmÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s handmade pimento cheese. Or you can take inspiration from one of favorite top chefs: the divine Eric Ripert (the three-starred Michelin chef/owner of Le Bernardin and star of Top Chef and Avec Eric), Suzanne Goin (chef/owner of L.A.Ã¢â‚¬â„¢s Lucques, AOC, and Tavern, and author of one of our favorite cookbooks, Ã¢â‚¬Å“Sunday Suppers at LucquesÃ¢â‚¬), Chris Hastings (chef/owner with wife Idie of BirminghamÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s fun and fab Hot & Hot Fish Club), and Donald Link (chef/owner of New OrleansÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s beloved Butcher, Cochon, Calcasieu, and Herbsaint). Below, they dish about everyoneÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s favorite summer pleasure:
Eric Ripert: Ã‚ Ã¢â‚¬Å“I love a burger that you can take in your two hands and taste all the ingredients in one bite without having it spilling out all over you.Ã‚ I usually make my burgers with ground sirloin, and the ratio of fat to meat is very importantÃ¢â‚¬”I typically go for 85/15.Ã‚ And then I love to have all the classic toppings, but in perfect proportionÃ¢â‚¬”thinly sliced lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, and topped with both ketchup and mustard.Ã‚ Truthfully, and it may sound crazy coming from a French chef, but I think McDonaldÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s and Burger King have the right idea when it comes to size and proportion, so IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m inspired by that. I just use better quality ingredients!Ã‚ Last but not least, you have to have a great quality bun.Ã¢â‚¬
Suzanne Goin: “I love a classic beef burger Ã¢â‚¬â€œ grass-fed meat, red onion, super-ripe beefsteak tomato, avocado, bacon, lettuce and I MUST HAVE ketchup. (I know it’s not cool, and maybe it’s just a childhood palate thing but I HAVE to have ketchup.)Ã¢â‚¬¨Ã¢â‚¬¨And I really love a pork burger.Ã‚ I make the one on the menu at Tavern with ground pork, bacon, and chorizo and serve it with melted Manchego cheese and romesco sauce on a soft toasted challah bun. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a smoky, fatty, juicy, dripping-down-your chin dish. Yum.”
Chris Hastings: Ã¢â‚¬Å“The burger we always do is ridiculously good. The components are: ground chuck (we grind our own at the Hot & Hot), grilled Vidalia onions, a slice of heirloom tomato (preferably Cherokee purple), WrightÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Dairy sharp cheddar (Alabama), Allan Benton’s bacon, a store bought bun, toasted (I do sour dough buns when I plan aheadÃ¢â‚¬”theyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re great because they can handle a sturdy burger and it provides better texture and juice catching). The condiments are old schoolÃ¢â‚¬”Dijon mustard, Heinz ketchup, HellmanÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s mayo.
Donald Link: Ã¢â‚¬Å“When it comes to burgers I like the traditional American style: soft buns with mustard, ketchup, mayo, thin sliced onion, tomato, shredded lettuce, and American cheese. Ã‚ Lee’s does a good job in the New Orleans area, but there is a place or two around Toledo Bend Lake in North Louisiana where I can find the best. Griddled buns that crisp up on the flat top can make a burger. I also like a little bread soaked in milk mixed in with my burger meat, and all the seasoning on the outside when being cooked and not inside the patty.Ã¢â‚¬
Pictured above, clockwise from top right: Eric Ripert, Suzanne Goin, and a pimento burger topped with Blackberry FarmÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s pimento cheese.
We suggest beef from the following sources: Delaware Chicken Farm and Seafood Ã‚ Market (Snake River Farms Gourmet Kobe Hamburger Patties); Marksbury Farm (Pastured Ground Beef), and The Organic Butcher (Dry Aged Ground Beef). Both Marksbury Farm and The Organic Butcher use whole muscle chuck. Says The Organic ButcherÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Ryan: Ã¢â‚¬Å“We like ground chuck for burgers because the muscle is naturally balanced in it’s lean to fat ratio. Ã‚ We do not test the ratio, but it would be close to 85/15 if we did. Ã‚ Choosing specific cuts or muscles and blending them in different ways is part of the current burger craze and there are many good combos. ButÃ‚ I think ground chuck will always be the gold standard.Ã¢â‚¬
You might also try: the Organic Beef and Burger Rub from St. Helena Olive Oil Co.; the Catalan Sauce Selection and aged Manchego cheese from The Spanish Table (see Suzanne GoinÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s delicious pork burger above); the Lincolnshire Poacher cheddar-style cheese and McClureÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Spicy Pickles from St. James Cheese Company; and Bobby FlayÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Burgers, Fries, & Shakes at Books & Books.