"Without doubt, comfort food is completely subjective," Jamie Oliver writes in his new cookbook, Jamie Oliver’s Comfort Food. Whether it be hot cocoa or pulled pork hash, Oliver takes readers on a tour of the different kinds of ritual meals, guilty pleasure snacks, and pick me ups that will appeal to any reader with an appetite. Here, the popular British chef tells us how to make a burger that will comfort you first by filling you up, and then again by making you pass out and take a very necessary post-burger nap:
Jamie Oliver's Insanity Burger
Competition for the best burger in London has gone mad. Some burgers are gourmet and piled high with toppings, whereas others are thinner, simpler, wrapped in paper, steamy and sloppy. All I can say is my insanity burger is going to be right up there — the method is almost ritualistic in what it requires you to do to get close to burger perfection. I’ve also used the brilliant technique of brushing the burgers with mustard and a dash of Tabasco Chipotle sauce as they cook to build up an incredible gnarly layer of seasoning.
1¾ lbs ground chuck steak
1 large red onion
1 splash of white wine vinegar
2 large gherkins
4 sesame-topped brioche burger buns
4–8 slices of smoked bacon
4 teaspoons yellow mustard
Tabasco Chipotle sauce
4 thin slices of Red Leicester cheese
4 teaspoons tomato ketchup
¼ of an iceberg lettuce
2 heaping tablespoons mayo
1 heaping tablespoon tomato ketchup
1 teaspoon Tabasco Chipotle sauce
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
optional: 1 teaspoon brandy or bourbon
For the best burger, go to your butcher and ask them to grind 1¾ lbs of chuck steak for you. This cut has a really good balance of fat and flavorsome meat. Divide it into 4 and, with wet hands, roll each piece into a ball, then press into flat patties roughly 5 inches wide and about ¾ inch wider than your buns. Place on an oiled plate and chill in the fridge. Next, finely slice the red onion, then dress in a bowl with the vinegar and a pinch of sea salt. Slice the gherkins and halve the buns. Finely chop the lettuce and mix with the rest of the burger sauce ingredients in a bowl, then season to taste.
I like to cook only 2 burgers at a time to achieve perfection, so get two pans on the go—a large non-stick frying pan on a high heat for your burgers and another on a medium heat for the bacon. Pat your burgers with oil and season them with salt and pepper. Put 2 burgers into the first pan, pressing down on them with a slotted spatula, then put half the bacon into the other pan. After 1 minute, flip the burgers and brush each cooked side with a ½ teaspoon of mustard and a dash of Tabasco. After another minute, flip onto the mustard side and brush again with another ½ teaspoon of mustard and a second dash of Tabasco on the other side. Cook for 1 more minute, by which point you can place some crispy bacon on top of each burger with a slice of cheese. Add a tiny splash of water to the pan and place a heatproof bowl over the burgers to melt the cheese — 30 seconds should do it. At the same time, toast 2 split buns in the bacon fat in the other pan until lightly golden. Repeat with the remaining 2 burgers.
To build each burger, add a quarter of the burger sauce to the bun base, then top with a cheesy bacon burger, a quarter of the onions, and gherkins. Rub the bun top with a teaspoon of ketchup, then gently press together. As the burger rests, juices will soak into the bun, so serve right away, which is great, or for an extra-naughty experience, wrap each one in parchment paper, then give it a minute to go gorgeous and sloppy.
From Jamie Oliver’s Comfort Food by Jamie Oliver. Copyright 2014 Jamie Oliver. Excerpted by permission of Ecco, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.