or, Extra Sauce Please!
When I was 15, I got my first “real” job. I was a carhop at the local burger place, which meant I would deliver our delicious burgers, chicken and onion rings (best ever!) to the cars parked outside the restaurant. For me, it was a dream come true. What could be bad? I made $2.90 an hour, PLUS tips, one of my best friends worked there, and, there was all sorts of interesting drama amongst the other employees. My very own Peyton Place!
One of the most popular menu items was the now standard 2-patty burger with “special sauce”. I don’t know if the recipe for “special sauce” was supposed to be secret, but many customers asked for the recipe, and we often told them what it was. Are you ready for this? You can buy a version of it in any grocery, but it’s not something you associate with burgers. Any guesses? I’ll give you the answer in due time.
Everyone has their own idea about what a good burger needs, but for me, it’s always a special sauce. I’ve made my own at times, and I’ve also used Thousand Island Salad dressing. Both are delicious, but not perfect. I want something tangy, salty, a little sweet, and it has to have some kick.
When I was browsing the June issue of Bon Apetit, I noticed not only the scrumptious-looking burger on the front, bit the little caption proclaiming “…it’s got Special Sauce”. I had to investigate. Turns out it’s a recipe from Ralph Lauren’s Double RL Ranch. He does design nice clothes, so maybe that helps him put together a burger. Ok, maybe not. But I’ll give it a try. And you should, too!
Double RL Ranch Burger
(Adapted from Bon Apetit, May 2015, p. 70)
For the sauce:
1/2 c mayonnaise
1/3 c ketchup
2T sweet relish
1T finely chopped cornichons
1T finely chopped red onion
1T finely chopped jalapeños (from a jar or can)- optional, see Directions
1t Worchestershire sauce
1/2 t garlic powder
1/2 t onion powder
1t hot sauce
Salt and pepper
For the burgers:
2 lb ground chuck
6 oz. sharp cheddar
6 sesame buns, toasted
Lettuce, tomato, pickles, onion slices
Make the sauce a day in advance, if possible. The flavors really develop over a day or even two. It really does get better over time. Mix together all ingredients. Salt and pepper to taste. After mixing and seasoning, I decided the “kick” I was looking for was not strong enough, this is where I decided to add the jalapeños. These were not in the original recipe, so feel free to omit them or add to taste. I think they add a nice amount of flavor.
Next make the burgers. This recipe is one where the flavors of the sauce, cheese, and condiments compliment the beef, so the burger is very basic. Just fashion 6 burgers. Start by dividing your meat into 6 roughly equal sized balls. Pat gently into patties, then, using your thumbs, press an indentation into the middle of each patty. This prevents the patty from becoming kind of “football-shaped” on the grill, with the middle plumping up too much. The “football” shape makes it difficult to get a good char on the surface.
Prepare charcoal grill or preheat gas grill to medium-high. Just before grilling burgers, salt generously.
For medium-rare burgers, grill 4-5 minutes on the first side. Flip. Add cheese slice to each burger, and cook an additional 4-5 minutes. On my grill, I cook burgers a total of 8 minutes. But I like the burger to cover the entire bun, so I make them thinner rather than thicker, especially because they tend to plump up as they cook.
Remove burgers from the grill to buns. Add condiments and sauce. Enjoy!
And, if you’re wondering what the special sauce that we served on our signature burger at my first job, it was…are you ready? Tartar Sauce! Try it sometime, really delicious!