Sable: Chicago, IL
La Sirena Clandestina: Chicago, IL

Making the umami burger: at home

It's hard to argue with great success.

You might recall that I had set out to duplicate, if not a bit lazily, the famous Umami burger that everyone is talking about. Mine would be called the Ooooo-tommy:burger. I did note that if it wasn't good, you wouldn't here another peep out of me. But, since it was fantastic, I'm proud to boast about the results.

The standard Umami Burger from the chain of the same name consists of: shiitake mushrooms, caramelized onions, roasted tomato, parmesan crisp, and homemade ketchup of some sort. Here's a screenshot from their website for your reference:

Screen Shot 2013-09-01 at 10.07.42 AM

I figured this is not the stuff of aerospace engineering, and set out to make all of that umami filled stuff, with the exception of the homemade ketchup, because no one likes homemade ketchup. Everyone likes Heinz. End of discussion.

The shiitake mushrooms were sauteed in some butter, with a bit of salt. The onions were caramelized, with some salt, and then a splash of Worcestershire toward the end of the cooking.

Parmesan crisps (frico), were easy enough to make, since it's just grated cheese, about a tablespoon or two formed into a disc, and placed on a Silpat and baked for about 10 minutes.

I picked up some wonderful tomatoes from Old Hook Farm, and put slices in the oven to roast them a bit. The goal here was to drive off some water and concentrate the flavor.

The only magic here is beef and the cooking.

For this burger, I chose a 50/50 blend of short rib and flat iron (blade steaks). As you can see, there's lots of fantastic fat in these burgers. A patty size of six ounces is about right for me.

To get a great crust, I use a saute pan with clarified butter. The burger is basically going to fry in its own fat and the butter, and you will not find a better crust anywhere.

Let them rest, of course, and then build the burger.

Fairway in Paramus now has some store-made brioche, sold by the piece. At first glance they look tiny. But, they are about the same diameter as standard supermarket buns, and they work great for burgers, and with the Ooooo-tommy:burger for sure. 

I generally enjoy a burger with pickles, raw onions, and ketchup. Bright, bracing flavors. Given this burger had none of that, and instead had deep, dark, rich flavors, I was really expecting to not like it at all. But...this burger was fantastic. Some textural interest and good flavors. With no ketchup at all, I should add. The Ooooo-tommy:burger is a big fat keeper. And now I sure as shit don't have to wait on any lines in NYC to get one.

I suspect the success has to do with my sourcing of exceptional ingredients, a deft hand at building the burger, and inspired technique. Or maybe it was just the umami.