Use a high quality, organic beef, and gently mix with onions, or scallions, fresh garlic, salt and pepper. You want to use a good quality meat, into order to enjoy eating this burger cooked to medium, or even medium rare. This will ensure the proper amount of juiciness. One pound of beef will yield 3 burger patties. And remember, salt is KEY to a good burger, so be sure to measure. An under-salted burger, to me, is totally unappetizing.
One trick I use in catering, when working with huge quantities of raw ground beef, and trying to gage how much salt to add, is the tongue test. I touch a tiny piece of the salted raw ground beef to my tongue, no, I don’t actually eat it, but just touch it, and if I can taste the salt, it’s enough.
To make the Harissa Aioli, simple mix a tablespoon of harissa paste into ½ C mayo. If you are fresh out of harissa paste, here is a quick alternative– whisk in dry spices – smoked paprika, cumin, chili powder – for an easy quick version.
But if you have the time, I highly encourage you to make a batch of flavorful harissa paste, a wonderful and incredibly versatile North African condiment, that can be used in a myriad of ways, in the kitchen. The base of the paste is made with dried chilies. Below is my favorite recipe.
You can use Harissa Paste to rub on meats and poultry before grilling, make a vinaigrette out of it, serve it with eggs, stir it into soups or sauces for added depth, or even in yogurt, sour cream, or hummus for a flavorful dip. Harissa aioli is great with crab cakes, seared scallops or with fries. Use it any way you would hot sauce, imparting a deep flavorful smokey heat to anything you are cooking. The best thing about it is –it keeps for weeks, months, in the fridge, if you store it in a lidded jar, and top it with a thin layer of olive oil after each use. The oil act as a barrier keeping it fresh, and as the harissa paste ages, it tastes better and better, flavors melding, harmonizing and becoming more complex. So give it a whirl sometime! It’s something I always try to have on hand, because with it, I can do so many things, easily and quickly.
Make the Quick Pickled Onions, and put in the fridge to cool, while preparing the rest.
Slice your melty cheese. In this recipe I used Mahon, a semi soft melty cheese, which can easily be substituted with cheddar, provolone, or jack.
Grill you burgers on Medium High heat, sear well, cook to rare or medium rare, turn off heat, place cheese on top and close lid ( or place in a warm oven- and cook to desired done-ness). Toast buns at the same time, right on the grill.
And assemble your burgers….bun, a layer of aioli, burger with melted cheese, more aioli if you like, pickled onions, arugula, and bun top. That’s it!!
2 garlic cloves, minced
¼ C finely diced onion, shallot or scallion
½ -¾ tsp kosher salt
½ tsp cracked pepper
3-4 T Harissa Aioli -see recipe below
¼ C quick pickled red onions-see recipe below
6 slices crispy bacon -2 slices per burger
3 brioche buns-store bought or see recipe below
1 C baby arugula
3 oz. Mahon cheese sliced ( or any melty cheese- jack, provolone, cheddar, edam, gouda)
1. Make or purchase Brioche Buns -see recipe below
2. Pre heat grill to medium high.
3. Make quick pickled onions, refrigerate. ( see below)
4. In a med bowl, using your hands, combine ground beef with onion, garlic, salt and pepper, just to combine, being careful to not over mix. Form patties, set aside.
5. Crisp bacon slices, set on paper towel.
6. In a small bowl, whisk mayo with harissa paste, or spices. Set aside.
7. Slice Mahon cheese.
8. When grill is hot, grill patties to medium rare or medium. Toast buns at the same time.
9. Top with cheese and close lid turning heat off , letting it melt- (or place in a warm oven, topping with cheese, to allow it to melt).
10. Assemble. Once cheese has melted, assemble. Spread aioli on the buns, place burgers, bacon, more aioli, arugula and pickled onions and then the bun top. Serve immediately.
Harissa Mayo Recipe
½ C mayo
1-2 T harissa paste (or use dry spices :1 tsp smoked paprika, 1 tsp chipotle powder or chili powder, 1 tsp cumin, pinch salt and pepper)
Stir in harissa paste or spices into the mayo in a small bowl, set aside.
Pickled Red onions
1/2 cup white vinegar
2 tablespoons sugar
generous pinch of salt
1 tsp whole peppercorns
5 whole cloves
1/2 large red onion, peeled, and thinly sliced into rings
Bring all ingredients to a boil in a small pot, for 1 minute. Remove from heat and chill.
Light Fluffy Brioche Buns
From Comme Ça
Time: 1 hour, plus 2 to 4 hours’ rising
3 tablespoons warm milk
2 teaspoons active dry yeast
2 1/2 tablespoons sugar
2 large eggs
3 cups bread flour
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened.
1. In a glass measuring cup, combine 1 cup warm water, the milk, yeast and sugar. Let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, beat 1 egg.
2. In a large bowl, whisk flours with salt. Add butter and rub into flour between your fingers, making crumbs. Using a dough scraper, stir in yeast mixture and beaten egg until a dough forms. Scrape dough onto clean, unfloured counter and knead, scooping dough up, slapping it on counter and turning it, until smooth and elastic, 8 to 10 minutes.
3. Shape dough into a ball and return it to bowl. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, 1 to 2 hours.
4. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Using dough scraper, divide dough into 8 equal parts. Gently roll each into a ball and arrange 2 to 3 inches apart on baking sheet. Cover loosely with a clean kitchen towel and let buns rise in a warm place for 1 to 2 hours.
5. Set a large shallow pan of water on oven floor. Preheat oven to 400 degrees with rack in center. Beat remaining egg with 1 tablespoon water and brush some on top of buns. Bake, turning sheet halfway through baking, until tops are golden brown, about 15 minutes. Transfer to a rack to cool completely.
Yield: 8 buns.
Harissa Paste -make 1 ½ Cups
4 oz dried chilies – (an assortment mild, med, hot, smoked)
6-8 garlic cloves
1T cumin seeds 2 tsp caraway seeds
1 T coriander seeds
3 T olive oil
1 ¾ tsp kosher salt
1 T fresh lemon juice
1 tsp smoked paprika
Bring chilies to a boil in a large pot of water, turn heat off, cover, let sit 1 hour or overnight. Toast spices and grind them When rehydrated, remove seeds and stems. Place all the ingredients in a food processor and pulse until desired consistency. To store, place in seal-able jar and drizzle olive oil over top after each use, to preserve. It will last 1-2 months in the fridge.