When you reach a certain age, or belt size, you tend to slow down on the burger intake. So you must make those occasions of consumption count - and this is one variation that's worth the wait.
It's featured in the new "Shake Shack" cookbook and was created by Massimo Bottura, of Osteria Francescana in Modena, Italy, who paints plates with impeccable and imaginative flavors. His energy in the kitchen is infectious, as I've had the pleasure to witness.
This creation is loaded with umami, that fifth "savory taste," yet the recipe isn't the least bit chef-fussy. It consists of a food-processor-quick green sauce on top and balsamic mayo on the bottom; in between them goes a pan-seared patty of very cold, very lean ground beef laced with Parmigiano-Reggiano.
This is one savory, juicy, messy, rich-tasting burger - especially when delivered upon a buttery toasted brioche bun. A half portion might be all you need, and you'd be satisfied.
Yield: 4 to 8 servings
For the salsa verde 1 thick slice day-old crusty white bread 2 tablespoons water 1 tablespoon capers 3 anchovy fillets 1 small clove garlic Leaves from 8 to 10 stems flat-leaf parsley (1 packed cup) ½ teaspoon white wine vinegar 5 tablespoons olive oil Kosher or sea salt
For the burgers 1 pound very cold ground beef (preferably 92 percent lean) ½ cup packed freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese Kosher or sea salt Freshly ground black pepper 1 tablespoon olive oil 2 tablespoons unsalted butter 4 hamburger buns, preferably potato
For the balsamic mayonnaise ¼ cup mayonnaise 2½ teaspoons aged balsamic vinegar
For the salsa verde: Place the bread in a medium bowl. Pour the water over it and let it soak in for a minute or two, then tear the bread, letting the pieces fall into a food processor. Drain the capers and anchovy fillets.
Cut a few slices off the garlic clove (to taste) and add to the food processor, along with the parsley leaves, capers, anchovies, vinegar, oil and a pinch of salt. Puree until fairly smooth, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. The yield is about 1 cup.
For the burgers: Place the chilled ground beef in a mixing bowl. Fold in the cheese until well incorporated. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Divide the mixture into 4 equal portions and form each into a 3/4-inch-thick patty.
Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Once the oil simmers, add the burger patties and cook for 2 to 3 minutes per side, until well seared and just cooked through (medium-rare). Transfer to a cutting board to rest while you prepare the buns.
Melt the butter, then use it to spread on the inside of the hamburger buns. Toast in a toaster oven until golden brown.
For the balsamic mayonnaise: Stir together the mayonnaise and balsamic vinegar in a small bowl, until well incorporated.
To serve, spread each bottom bun with one-quarter of the balsamic mayo. Place a burger on top, then spread salsa verde over each burger and finish with the top buns. Serve warm.
Nutrition information per half burger (using half the salsa verde): 400 calories, 17 g protein, 27 g carbohydrates, 25 g fat, 9 g saturated fat, 75 mg cholesterol, 510 mg sodium, 1 g dietary fiber, 4 g sugar.
Source: Adapted from "The Shake Shack Cookbook: Recipes and Stories," by Randy Garutti and Mark Rosati (Clarkson Potter, 2017).