Ever had a double double with grilled onions from In-N-Out? If not I recommend booking yourself on the next available flight to Los Angeles as this needs to be remedied pronto. But don’t take my word for it; Thomas Keller rented the In-N-Out cookout truck to celebrate the anniversary of his restaurant, The French Laundry. High praise indeed.
Once I sampled a double double no other burger could satisfy my taste buds again which left me in somewhat of a pickle considering my local outlet is over 7000km away. I searched feverishly like a crack addict attempting to recreate that initial high but no burger came close to delivering the endorphin rush I experienced in LA. The only thing left to do was attempt to make my own version of a double double and pray that it would tide me over until my next pilgrimage to SoCal. With a little help from the Serious Eats lab, I have managed a pretty good version even if I do say so myself.
The Take: Ok so the beef is always important in a burger but not to the extent where you forget about the fixin’s and throw them on last second and think it’ll all be ok because it won’t. A good burger is about all the ingredients commingling; the gooey american cheese, the sweet caramelized onions, and the oh so important pickle-laden, sweet and tangy sauce. When done right a burger hits every taste receptor on your tongue.The sweet, salty, sour and bitter flavours become one to induce shock waves of pleasure, food porn at its best.
Fat Patty: A general rule of thumb when it comes to the fat ratio of a patty is 80:20, 20% fat is a must or you’ll be munching on a hockey puck. Here’s where I cheat and tell you I don’t make my own, I know I know, I said homemade but I’ve tried all kinds of minced beef (forcemeat) and none even compared to tesco’s finest patties. The grind is large which means the fibers are not too tightly packed thus providing the perfect chewiness to each bite. Generously salt the patty before placing on a hot pan with a little oil to form a nice crust and cook to desired doneness. If you trust you’re butcher medium rare is ideal. If, like me you shop in tesco, you cook it medium.
Low and Slow: : The most underrated element of any burger, usually either not cooked at all or slightly grilled still leaving a serious crunch and oniony tang. If that’s all you’ve ever been exposed to then you don’t realise the full potential of an onion, luckily I’m here to rectify that. Grilled onions should be melted to the consistency of french onion soup and caramelized to within an inch of their lives releasing their savoury sweetness perfectly complimenting the patty and cheese. To achieve this simply salt the sliced onion before frying as it promotes caramelization and fry on a low heat for about 50-60 mins. Do Not, I repeat, DO NOT skip this step.
Liquid Gold: : If you haven’t been making room for processed cheese in your fridge, it’s about time you did. So versatile is the tangy, salty, chewy, gelatinous yellow stuff it is quite simply a super food. Not on the healthful side, but then again, neither am I. Use two slices. When they combine with the onions… well, ever wonder what heaven tastes like?
Saauuuccce: : No burger worth its salt is complete without a signature sauce, think about it, where would the Big Mac be? With this in mind I thought it necessary to make a good sauce so stole my recipe from Serious Eats; mayo, ketchup, finely diced pickles, vinegar. It’s a darn good take on the In-N-Out spread.
Soft Buns: : No fancy Italian bread, simple old fashioned hamburger buns i.e. bunsters, cheap tesco variety. Always go for small as they provide the perfect bun to burger ratio.
(note: if you’re using tomatoes make sure they’re ripe and of the beef or large slicing variety. I usually do without as they are mealy and tasteless when out of season. I rarely use lettuce because it adds little without its good friend tomato)
1. Put half the grilled onions on top of the burger while still on the pan and place one slice of cheese on top.
2. Place other slice on bottom bun.
3. Transfer topped patty to bun.
4. Top off the patty with remainder of onions.
5. Generously spread sauce on top bun.
6. Crown your masterpiece.
7. Compose yourself, you don’t want it all to go wrong now and everything slide out of the back of the burger, and take a bite