Visions of a Cheeseburger

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Arguably the best burger I’ve ever had (thus far) is from Father’s Office, a gastropub with two locations in L.A. The famous, “Father’s Office Burger” has been garnered as the very first “Gourmet Burger,” created by FO’s Owner-Executive Chef Sang Yoon, in 2001. (That’s the Chef Sang, who you may’ve seen on the last season of  Top Chef Masters.)

The dry-aged beef patty is topped with a French onion soup-like jam, applewood-smoked bacon compote, melted gruyere and bleu cheese and a bed of arugula. The gastropub has a very strict no-substitutions, no modifications policy. Don’t even think about asking for ketchup–that’s considered taboo at the Office.

My first dining experience at FO was 9 years ago with my good friend Connie, who took me to this place that she deemed had “the best burger, EVER.” That’s pretty big shoes to fill, I thought. As we sat at the dimly lit bar, she warned me right away not to ask for any condiments or to even try to modify the burger in any way. “I’m not a fan of Bleu cheese,” I said. “Trust me, it’s good,” she assured me. The first bite was this incredible mouth-watering, melt-in-your-mouth explosion of flavors: the umami from the beef, the sweetness from the caramelized onions, the hint of smokiness from the bacon, the tang from the bleu cheese and the peppery and crunchy bite from the arugula. I couldn’t believe it. She was right: hand’s down, this is truly the best burger I’ve ever had.

Since my move almost 4 years ago to the East Bay, I often crave that L.A. burger that reminds me of home. For those of you who have never tried the Father’s Office burger, you’re in luck. With a little research, recipe testing in my kitchen, and taste memory, I’ve found a recipe that tastes as close to the real thing as possible. Of course, nothing beats the original, but until my next trek down south, this will do.

Who makes the best burger you’ve ever had? Share your answers in the comments below! I’d love to hear your stories and suggestions!

The Father’s Office Burger
Recipe slightly adapted from Bakelist
Yields 2 burgers

For the Balsamic Bacon Onion Jam

INGREDIENTS
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
1 large yellow onion, peeled and julienned
4 slices applewood bacon, cut into lardons
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup water
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

METHOD
Heat a saute pan over medium-high. Once hot, add a tablespoon of EVOO and bacon into the pan with the onions, stirring occasionally. Once the onions become translucent in color, lower the heat to medium, continuing to render out the bacon fat. If the bacon begins to burn before the onions caramelize, add some water to the pan and lower the heat. This should help.

Once the onions begin to turn a golden brown color, add the balsamic vinegar and water to the pan. Cover and cook for an additional 10 minutes or until all of the liquid is dissolved. Season to taste. Remove from the heat.

For the Burgers

INGREDIENTS
14 ounces ground beef (preferably dry-aged)
2 buns, buttered and lightly toasted
4 ounces Gruyere cheese, grated
2 ounces Bleu cheese crumbles
1/2 cup baby arugula, washed and patted dry
*1/2 cup garlic aioli (see my recipe HERE)

METHOD
Heat a cast-iron skillet, grill or, non-stick pan with a little oil over medium-high heat.

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The crispy cheese bits that hit the pan are the best snacks!

While you’re waiting for your pan to heat up, shape the beef into two 7-ounce patties. Season both sides with salt and pepper. Place the patties onto the pan and allow to sear for 3-4 minutes per side. In the last minute of cooking, place the cheeses atop each patty. Cover with a lid for another minute or until melted.

Butter the burger buns and place on the grill or oven on broil for 1-2 minutes, just until lightly toasted.

ASSEMBLY

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This aioli is seriously good for French fry dipping


Spread the toasted buns with the garlic aioli.

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The more cheese, the better.

Top the bottom bun with a patty.

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This just keeps on getting better, right?

Then add 1-2 tablespoons of the balsamic onion-bacon jam.

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If you like, you can place more arugula into a small bowl, hit it with a pinch of salt, a splash of EVOO, some freshly ground black pepper, and mix it together for a side salad in lieu of fries.

Finish with the arugula, then the top bun. Serve with shoestring fries and the rest of your aioli.

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