Clearly I like burgers. Clearly. It's a beautiful thing, the hamburger is.
Since most restaurants have no idea how to make a good burger, I spend a good amount -- probably an unhealthy amount -- of my time thinking about and making hamburgers at home. I never buy pre-ground beef (except from Fair Lawn's Swiss Pork Store, where they grind to order), use only high-quality interesting cheeses (most of the time at least), really good bacon, rarely ketchup, tomatoes only when in season or Campari tomatoes if not. And as for the bun? Well hell, I'm not a baker, and we don't have many options in north Jersey for fresh baked buns or brioche. So I have to concede and use store-bought mass produced buns.
I've gone as far as convincing myself that certain brands are better than others (Wonder, believe it or not, is good for a burger). But in the back of my mind, I know having to settle is really holding my burgers back. As with any sandwich, the bread is just about the most important ingredient. Acknowledging the bread as any less important in the sandwich calculus is doing you and your sandwich a disservice.
So the other day, I get a call from the missus, presumably so she could rub in the fact that she was having lunch at the Spotted Pig, while I was eating something crappy at my desk. Then it occurred to me: they apparently have a good burger at the Spotted Pig, so I bet they have a good bun too. Some quick googling of the burger led me to some info and pictures of that bun, and it looked pretty good. I quickly emailed the missus and told her to buy 2 buns from the restaurant. I didn't care if it they were 5 dollars apiece, we're paying for convenience and access. The missus asked, and a confused server eventually obliged and boxed up two buns gratis. Once he was told that the recipient is a food blogger and wanted to blog about them he gave in. This is obviously essentially the truth, but that was the first time that I've ever pulled the blogging card. And for 2 buns for cryin' out loud. Imagine the type of free food I could get if I were shameless.
I got home after the missus and surveyed the situation. The buns seemed dense, and big. The reality is that they weren't dense at all. They were quite light and airy. I'm guessing some egg and butter were involved in the baking, which is a good thing in my book. They were, though, big. Too big for my usual 6 ounce burger. So I had to step it back up to 8 ounces.
I gutted the bun, and topped with burger with some crispy Swiss Pork Store bacon, and some bourbon-braised onions (onions, butter, bourbon)...which I thought I had come up with that night, although that's obviously not the case if you google "bourbon braised onions".
The result? Excellence. A great bun. A great burger. And a reminder that I have to find a source for buns in north Jersey.
Thank you Spotted Pig!
Spotted Pig : 314 W. 11th Street : New York, NY : 212.620.0393