Happy Chinese New Year, everybody! It’s the year of the rabbit — an extremely auspicious sign. Unfortunately, I’m beginning the new year with a terrible, terrible head cold, so I’m going to keep this brief.
Bartek recently had us over to test out his new electric meat grinder — a recent Christmas present! (I can’t wait to see what he does with it on Feb. 12). He cooked up hamburgers from scratch, made with a blend of sirloin and brisket. While we waited to eat, we nibbled on his homemade chorizo. It was so good, Adam smuggled an inch of it home in his pocket. Thanks, Bartek! Heh.
It was amazing to watch. He had a table set with all kinds of fancy hamburger toppings, like his own pickled banana peppers, homemade ketchup (sweet with cinnamon!), and my favorite — tiny brioche hamburger rolls that he made from scratch. Flecked with poppy seeds and just the right manageable size for little hands, they were soft, pillowy and the perfect receptacle to absorb the copious amount of beef juices.
He even made — at our request — homemade mayo right on the spot, which was the perfect sauce with which to smother a basket of tiny potato wedges fried in lard. Those of you that take the time to prepare your own mayo know that the store-bought dreck is no comparison.
Bartek’s patty size was perfect — somewhere between a slider and a regular hamburger. I ate two.
Bartek also made a round of burgers encrusted in crushed black peppercorns, which were later topped with blue cheese and the aforementioned homemade mayo. Utter perfection.
But my favorite combination was perhaps the simplest: a single hamburger patty, cooked to fleshy pink medium-rareness, topped with a thick wedge of extra sharp cheddar and salty bacon, finished with the tang of red onion and the cool crunch of butter lettuce. Bliss.