Making the Gargiulo Burger From Brennan & Carr

Welcome back to my blog. A little bit of savory cooking for you this time around.

I watch a lot of different channels on YouTube. As you know, I watch First We Feast for Hot Ones. Well, that’s not the only show that they have. Recently, they started Burger Scholar Sessions with George Motz, who they had on the channel a bunch back when they had The Burger Show. Now, I’m a big fan of a well-made burger. Like, a huge fan. So both these shows are right down my alley.

I’m generally curious and willing to explore when I cook. And watching the various cooking channels, I’ll sometimes come across something I want to try and make. We’ve seen this with Bon Appetit a couple times. This time, it’s First We Feast.

In a recent episode (find it here), George made what is called the Garguilo burger. It’s named after a restaurant, but strangely enough, not the restaurant where it’s served. That would be a place called Brennan & Carr. And that place isn’t a burger joint. It’s a roast beef sandwich joint. So, how did a not-burger joint name a special burger after a different restaurant? Well, the Brennan & Carr folks would make lunch for the staff of Garguilo once a week. And they’d put out huge trays of roast beef and burger patties and whatnot and people would just make their own meal. Well, someone had a “monkey touch the monolith” moment and put beef on burger and dunked it in jus just for good measure. Hence, Garguilo burger.

It looked damn tasty and actually really simple to make. So, when I went out for groceries the other day, I picked up everything I needed. And I figured I’d give you all a look inside (in case you want to read my typing as opposed to watch George do it in a video up there).

So, starting out, the burger has sauteed onions on it. This, by far, will take the longest of any ingredient to prep, so that’s where we begin. First, get yourselves an onion and cut it in half.

Now, I find sauteed onions the best when they’re in half-moon slices. So once you have the top and bottom removed as you see above, slice from the outside moving inward towards the core, going around following the circumference of the onion, like so:

That will get you those long slivers of onion. Also, just FYI, cutting the onion that way will release fewer of the chemicals that hurt your eye. Just thought you’d know. Anyway, that goes into a pan with some type of oil. I actually chose to use butter for a deeper, richer flavor, but that does pose some challenges.

Making sauteed onions is interesting because you don’t really saute them. Saute means “jump” and that’s what you’re supposed to do when sauteing, you make the food jump. You use high heat and keep everything moving around the pan. These onions, however, are on only medium heat and I’m letting them sit for a bit before stirring. What I’m trying to do is break down the onions, release the sugars in them, and caramelize those sugars. This is going to take time and careful heat management. The reason I say that using butter makes it tricky is because butter has a very low smoke point (the point at which a fat breaks down and starts making things taste weird) and can burn easily (because of the milk solids). This actually helped me make sure I kept the heat low. Keep the butter from burning and you’ll eventually get the perfect sauteed onion, like so:

Oh, they’re so good. They’re so mushy and tasty and delicious. I could simply eat them just like that. I know, Kim. I see you over there. Don’t worry. I’ll take your onions for you. And I’m done talking about them for a bit. So it’s safe to continue on.

While the onions were working, I did a few other pieces of prep work. First, I put a little bit of beef broth along with 2-3 shakes of What’s-This-Here sauce in a small pot and put it on a low burner to just warm up.

I know in the video, George dips his burger in a giant vat of broth. However, I’m one bear making one burger. I don’t need to heat up the entire carton of broth and then have to worry about straining it afterward and storing it. I simply only poured a little out of the carton before putting it back in the fridge for later. “But how will you dunk your burger?” You’ll see.

Anyway, I also got my pastrami prepped. This is another slight deviation from the video, where George uses straight roast beef. Well, a couple things. There wasn’t any Boar’s Head roast beef at the grocery store when I went there. Also, I like the taste of pastrami. So, I got some thicker-cut slices and just chopped them into thirds for slight ease of handling later on. I’ve got about 1/4 of a pound there (or maybe slightly less, because I couldn’t help myself and had a couple pieces while waiting for my onions to finish).

After the onions were out of the pan, I gave it a bit of a wipe-down to get the butter out as well as any lingering bits of onion (burned onion tastes very bitter), returned the pan to the heat, added some canola oil, and turned the heat to medium-high. When that was hot, I added my 1/4 pound burger patty as well as my pastrami.

I’m using 85/15 ground beef. I like that ratio because I feel 80/20 can get greasy and something like 90/10 can get stringy. I know people usually call for slightly more fat-rich beef, but hey, I’m the one eating it. I also tried to handle the beef as little as possible. Over-handling can cause the burger to swell into a ball as it cooks. The only seasoning on the beef is some salt on the outside right before it hit the pan. Pre-salting your patties will make them chewy and rubbery.

Three minutes after that photo was taken, the burger was flipped and we get this photo:

Mmm, just look at that beautiful crust. This is going to be good. Right after flipping, I piled the pastrami on top of the burger, added a couple sauteed onions, and the last burger topping, the cheese:

It’s funny, I didn’t even realize that Boar’s Head made American Cheese until I thought I’d picked up cheddar from the deli case, got home, and realized what I’d actually purchased. Look, I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with Kraft or even Kroger American cheese singles. There’s not. I will gladly consume them on scrambled eggs or in a grilled cheese sandwich just fine. But Boar’s Head is just a step above and beyond. Indulge once and you’ll see what I mean. Anyway, that goes on top of the sauteed onions and then I put the lid on my pan so the cheese could melt. 2 minutes later, I removed the lid and had this:

But a burger needs a bun, right? Where was that masterpiece going to land? In the video, George uses a crusty, Italian roll. I would’ve loved that. However, there weren’t any at my Kroger. Best I could get were Kaiser rolls. Alright, but not crusty enough. So, I did what I could and toasted it. Granted, even if I had an Italian roll, I would’ve toasted it, and I’m very glad I did. You’ll see why in a bit.

Now, to address the dipping situation. I knew I wasn’t going to be dipping the whole burger into the jus. And with a Kaiser roll and not an Italian one, I wasn’t sure it’d survive the dunking anyway. So, I simply poured some jus on the bottom half of the bun, added the glorious stack from the pan, added the top bun, and poured more jus over the top. That resulted in this:

You can see where the jus poured over the side of the top of the roll. I poured slowly, giving it a chance to soak in before adding a bit more.

Sorry, I don’t have a cross-section or a photo of a single bite taken out of it or anything like that. I realized when I picked it up for the first time that my suspicions about the structural integrity of the bread was right. This wasn’t going to last long. The clock was ticking.

Taking a bite… oof. That’s an experience. Supremely beefy. The pastrami adds a nice bit of pepper to the whole mix. The sauteed onions are sweet and jammy and just perfect. I admit, I overcooked the burger itself, but the added jus kept everything from tasting dried out. Let’s just say that burger didn’t last long once I started eating. Damn, it was good.

However… I do feel there could be some improvements made. First, as I ate, I found myself wishing for something cool and creamy to go with it. Now, that could just be some nice potato salad on the side or maybe some mayo on the bun. Just a little something would go far.

I also thought it could maybe benefit from a dash of hot sauce. Just a little bit. I wouldn’t want the sauce to overpower everything else. But just a couple drops of Marie Sharp’s Smoked Habanero would go a very long way and be delicious.

I could’ve also used some more salt on the patty. I was worried that the jus would be hella-salty, so I was rather sparing when it came to seasoning. I could’ve used a heavier hand there and it would’ve been fine.

But yeah, this burger was incredibly easy to make, even for an amateur-cook like I am. There aren’t any exotic ingredients, so they should be available most places. I would definitely recommend you give it a shot for yourself.

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