Sorry, no East coast In-N-Outs coming soon, but the Accidental Locavore’s husband Frank found this recipe for the notorious Animal burger. All he had to do was mention it before we were all clamoring for him to start cooking. It’s pretty easy, (don’t let the list of ingredients scare you, you probably have most of them already) you just need time to make the caramelized onions, which can be done ahead. Feeds 4.
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, plus more for brushing
- 2 large onions, finely chopped
- Salt and pepper
- 1/4 cup mayonnaise
- 2 tablespoons ketchup
- 1 tablespoon sweet pickle relish
- 1/2 teaspoon white vinegar
- 2 pounds ground beef chuck (preferably 60 percent lean)
- 4 hamburger buns, split
- 1/4 cup sliced dill pickles
- 3/4 cup shredded iceberg lettuce
- 4 to 8 thin slices tomato
- 1/4 cup yellow mustard
- 8 slices American cheese
Heat the oil in a large sauté pan over medium-low heat. Add the onions and salt, cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden and soft, about 30 minutes. (If the onions brown too quickly, reduce the heat to low.) Uncover, increase the heat to medium-high and continue to cook, stirring often, until caramelized, about 8 more minutes. Add 1/2 cup water to the skillet, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Simmer, stirring, until the water evaporates, about 2 more minutes; transfer to a bowl and set aside. (The onions can be made up to 3 days ahead; cover and refrigerate, then reheat before using.)
Shape the beef into 8 patties, about 4”wide and ½” thick and season with salt and pepper.
Heat a griddle or skillet over medium heat; lightly brush with vegetable oil. Toast the buns on the griddle, split-side down. Spread each toasted bun bottom with about 1 tablespoon of the sauce, then top with a few pickles, the shredded lettuce, 1 or 2 slices of tomato and another dollop of the sauce; set aside. (Keep the griddle hot.)
Working in batches if necessary, put the patties on the griddle and cook 3 minutes. Spread about 1 1/2 teaspoons of mustard on the uncooked side of each patty, then flip and top each with 1 slice cheese; continue cooking about 2 more minutes for medium.
To serve: Top 4 of the patties with caramelized onions, then cover with the remaining patties, cheese-side up. Sandwich the double patties on the buns. Serve and enjoy!
My (our) verdict: While not quite authentic, this made a tasty burger! The sauce is basically Russian dressing with the addition of a tiny amount of vinegar and, like the onions, could be made ahead. We’ll probably make a big batch next time so we have them on hand. The onions were a little salty, so salt them as you’re cooking them, but taste them and add more if you need it. We used really good local grass-fed beef which was much leaner than called for, it tasted great, but regular store-bought burger would probably make a more authentic “animal”.