Summer is quickly slipping through our collective fingers, but we say it ain’t over ‘til the grill cools on Labor Day. So, to make this weekend’s last hurrah worthy of a compelling entry in a “How I spent my summer vacation” essay, we’ve got the exclusive recipe for the much-loved, Tavern Burger from NYC’s Gramercy Tavern.
On the QT, Chef Michael Anthony tells Westchester Magazine that he uses a short rib and chuck blend from Piccinini Brothers, the nearly 100-year old NYC meat purveyor, that supplies top Manhattan restaurants like Daniel, Pastis, and Blue Hill at Stone Barns with grass-fed organic meat and poultry, and is now delivering to customers in Westchester and Connecticut.
“One of the great selling points is that they make the ground beef blends themselves, and are involved in every detail of the cuts that go into the blend,” explains Anthony. “With typical grocery store ground meat, there is no traceability or accountability for the ground beef they’re selling. Piccinini Brothers uses old-world specificity in the meat they grind, and use only prime cuts.”
So, without further ado, here is how to make the Tavern Burger on your backyard barbecue:
- Let the meat sit out of the fridge for 15 to 20 minutes before cooking
- Form the patty by hand without over-seasoning or packing with too much pressure; use a light touch. “The less you do to the burger, the better,” says Chef Anthony.
- Salt assertively! “Most home cooks are surprised when they see a professional chef seasoning a burger with salt, but it really is what makes it come out better,” says Anthony, who doesn’t add any seasoning until the second before he begins to cook. (He uses Diamond Crystal Kosher salt, by the way, but says any salt will do.)
- Give the bun a quick toast on the grill (Gramercy Tavern uses Orwashers Bakery buns)
- Cook for seven and a half to eight minutes per 200-gram patty on high heat (this will ensure a medium rare burger)
- Top with cheese. Gramercy Tavern uses one-year old cheddar from Vermont’s Shelburne Farm. “I buy it from Saxelby Cheese, a magical place,” on Ninth Avenue, says Anthony.
Now, for the smoked onion sauce:
- One-half quart red onions, sliced
- 2 Tablespoons ketchup
- 2 egg yolks
- 4 Tablespoons cider vinegar
- 1 quarter quart of olive oil
- 1 quarter quart of grapeseed oil
- 1 Tablespoon honey
Toss red onions with olive oil, salt, and pepper, and grill for four minutes or until nicely charred. In a blender, place egg yolks, ketchup, cider vinegar, and honey; add the charred onions and blend in the olive oil and grapeseed oil. Taste for seasoning; the mixture should be thick.
To shine like a star in your own backyard, Chef Anthony offers: “Whenever you’re cooking meat on the grill, let it rest for about the same amount of time it cooks, and the results will be dramatically be improved. Meat continues to cook when it comes off grill, and by letting it rest, you’re allowing juices to flow and the temperature to penetrate the meat more evenly. It improves the quality of meat and makes it more tender and juicier. The bigger the cut, the more important this is.”