He's the NY based culinary graduate who's website pornburger.me racks up hundreds of thousands of hits every month. Founded in 2014 Mathew Ramsey originally set it up as a hobby but soon turned it into a full-time job after his drool-worthy recipes went viral. Now, he's letting us in on his secrets with the release of his first cookbook PornBurger. And just in time for #NationalBurgerDay we got a sneak peek of it. Here are three of the stand-out burger recipes...
Bill U Murray Me?
'What does this burger have to do with Bill Murray? Absolutely nothing. Well, unless of course you’re Bill Murray. In that case, this is a very personal public invitation to join me for a burger and a beer. Also, I’m pretty sure this is what he whispered into Scarlett Johansson’s ear at the end of Lost in Translation. This looker with a heart of gold is seared on the outside, medium--rare on the inside, with a molten core of melted cheese and a creamy sous--vide egg yolk. Stack this fatty with shredded lettuce, bacon, quick pickled jalapeño, tomato, and my smoky burger sauce, and you too may become a Bill--iever.'
PornBurger Smoky Burger Sauce
Barbecued red onions
1 Juicy Floozy Patty
A few slices of crisp--cooked smoked bacon
Shredded cos lettuce
1 Sesame Brioche Bun
PornBurger Smoky Burger Sauce
Makes about 1 cup
Behind EVERY GREAT BURGER is a super--secret special sauce. This is mine.
3/4 cup homemade mayonnaise (at left)
4 teaspoons chili garlic sauce (I like Huy Fong)
2 tablespoons ketchup
1 tablespoon sweet relish*
1 teaspoon liquid smoke
* I use Gordy’s Sweet Pepper Relish, which is a blend of pickled cucumbers, celery, onions, and peppers. Mix together the mayo, chili garlic sauce, ketchup, relish, and liquid smoke. Store airtight in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
The Juicy Floozy Patties
These patties utilize science to build off of the shoulders of St. Louis giant, the Juicy Lucy, by adding some creamy yolk-popp’n persuasion to the equation. For those of you not keeping score, each floozy is one sous--vide-cooked beef patty, one sous--vide-cooked egg yolk, and a whole lot of melty cheese. • Makes 4 patties
Eight 115 g PornBurger patties
8 slices American cheese, cut into 5 cm rounds (I use my 1/4--cup measure as a cutter)
4 extra--large eggs,* cooked sous--vide for 45 minutes at 65˚C
Extra-virgin olive oil, for the pan
Salt flakes and black pepper
* I usually make a -couple extra, just in case of breakage.
Use your thumbs to press a sizable divot in the center of each of the formed patties and press a cheese round onto each one. Carefully crack open your sous--vide eggs and gently remove the whites. Place a cooked yolk on half of the patties. Gently cover each yolked patty with an unyolked patty. Wet a finger or two and run along the seam of the two patties to make into one glorious patty. Be mindful not to squeeze down on the center, so as not to break the yolk.
Set your sous--vide water bath to 55˚C using your immersion circulator. Place the patties in zip--top plastic bags, one per bag, and use the water displacement method (see page 95) to push out the air from the bag. Zip--seal the bags and place in the water bath to cook for 1 hour.
Preheat a skillet or griddle over medium--high heat and drizzle it with oil. Season the patties liberally with salt and pepper and sear them on each side for about 1 minute, or until crispy. Serve immediately.
Makes 2 cups
3/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon salt flakes
1 teaspoon dried oregano
2 cloves garlic, peeled
7 to 10 jalapeños (the bigger they are, the less spicy), sliced into 5 mm -thick rounds
Combine the vinegar, water, sugar, salt, oregano, and garlic in a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer, stirring the salt and sugar until they dissolve. Add the jalapeños and simmer for 1 minute before removing from the heat. Use tongs to transfer the garlic and jalapeños to a sealable 500 ml container, and top off with the hot brine. Allow them to sit for at least a few hours and ideally a full day before serving. Store airtight in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
First impressions are important, which is why I let these bubble buns do the all the talking. Buttery with supple squish and subtle sweetness . . . these babies got all the back. • Makes 12 buns
41/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water (40˚C to 43˚C)
3 tablespoons warm milk (40˚C to 43˚C)
3 tablespoons sugar
4 large eggs
3 cups plus 3 tablespoons bread flour*
2 teaspoons salt flakes
140 g salted butter, at room temperature
Egg wash: 1 egg beaten with a splash of water
* Bread flour has more gluten than plain flour and allows for better structure. It can be found at your local grocery or online.
1. Combine the yeast, water, milk, and sugar in a small bowl. Allow the yeast to activate and foam for roughly 5 minutes.
2. Beat the 4 eggs in another small bowl until combined.
3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine the flour, salt, and butter. Mix on medium speed until the butter and flour have a “crumby” texture.
4. Add the yeast mixture and beaten eggs to the flour. Mix the ingredients (still with the paddle attachment) for about 10 minutes on low. The dough at this point should be incredibly slack and sticky. You want to be able to hold the dough and allow it to drop to the counter without breaking.
5. Using as little additional flour as possible, shape the dough into a ball and set it in a greased bowl. Cover with a dampened kitchen towel and allow the dough to rise in a warm spot until it has doubled in size. It should take anywhere from 1 to 3 hours to double. Remember, it’s about size, not time.
6. Dusting your hands with flour, gently punch down the dough to remove air bubbles and portion the dough into 8 equal pieces. (I like to use a scale for precision and to ensure equal cooking time.) Again, the less flour used for shaping and handling, the better.
7. Line a baking tray with baking paper. Take each piece of dough and flatten it with the palm of your hand to form a disc. Fold over each of the four sides and pinch in the middle. Flip the dough so that the seam side is down and use your palm to gently roll the dough into a smooth ball, resembling a bun. Place the shaped dough on the lined baking tray, leaving
5 to 7.5 cm between buns. Loosely cover the buns with plastic wrap and allow them to rise for roughly another hour. They should be nice and puffy.
8. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 200˚C.
9. Using a pastry brush, give the buns a nice gloss of egg wash. Place an ovenproof bowl with 1 cup water on the bottom shelf of the oven. This will give you the steam you need to get a nice and subtle crunch in the crust. Place your baking tray of buns on the top shelf uncovered and bake until golden brown, 14 to 16 minutes. Allow to cool completely on a wire rack.
Sesame Brioche Buns: Sprinkle 1/3 cup sesame seeds over the buns right after you brush them with the egg wash.
The Inglorious Basquered
Bueno. This Basque beauty is a pinch sweet, a pintxo salty, and all kinds of Spanish lisp--y. Behold, this braised oxtail burger comes served in its own sweet-vermouth--fortified jus, topped with seared foie gras and candied jamón Ibérico, and skewered to a crispy slice of rustic white bread lathered in a roasted physalis shallot compote. San Sebastián . . . you complete me.
Candied Jamo´n (page 119)
Seared Foie Gras (page 140)
1 Oxtail Burger with Sweet Vermouth Oxtail Jus (page 104)
Roasted Physalis Shallot Compote (page 178)
Rustic country bread
These sweet meat treats are highly addictive. I often serve them with foie gras as an added bit of crunch, but they also play nice as an accompaniment to a cheese plate or a salad. • Makes 5 slices
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
5 slices prosciutto or Spanish jamón*
* When I need 4 slices for a burger stack, I always make one extra for snacking.
Preheat the oven to 200˚C. Line a baking tray with foil.
Combine the sugar and water in a saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and cook until fully dissolved. Add the prosciutto to the simple syrup and simmer for a few minutes. Remove it and save the prosciutto simple syrup for making cocktails.
Transfer the prosciutto to the baking tray and bake until browned and crispy, 10 to 15 minutes.
Seared Foie Gras
This is foie--r and away my favorite way to prepare this delicacy. It’s also the easiest. I prefer to use grade--A foie gras lobes that I purchase from Hudson Valley Foie Gras. On average, a lobe weighs about 680 g and can serve close to ten people. Depending on what you’re using it for, I often buy the “cubed” foie gras, which comes precut in odd shapes, but is often suitable for throwing on a burger. The cubes are not as pretty, but they’re certainly a lot cheaper. Uncooked foie freezes nicely and can be saved for later use.
If you’ve purchased a whole lobe, start by cutting it into 2.5 cm -thick slices. Score both sides of each slice by cutting shallow diagonal lines, to make a crosshatch design. When you’re ready to sear, get a heavy pan ripping hot over high heat. No fat is needed because, as you’ll see, foie is basically all fat. Liberally season each side with salt and black pepper and lay it in the pan. There will be smoke. Foie--get--about it. The cooking is fast. We’re looking for deeply browned, crispy edges, which should only take 30 to 45 seconds. Using a spatula, flip the foie and sear for another 30 to 45 seconds, or until nicely browned. Remove from the heat, and allow to rest on a plate lined with paper towels for a -couple of minutes before serving.
Oxtail Burgers with Sweet Vermouth Oxtail Jus
While traditionally, oxtail was just that—the tail of an ox—today the cut most commonly refers to the tail of a cow. Oxtail is a perfect example of a rags-to-riches story. Coaxed through the braising process, oxtail transforms from an inexpensive, bony piece of meat to a truly rich and succulent cut, full of flavor. • makes 4 burgers
2 tablespoons butter
2 onions, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
3 stalks celery
2 cloves garlic
2 cups plain flour
2 teaspoons salt flakes
2 teaspoons black pepper
1 kg oxtail
1/4 cup absinthe
2 cups red wine
1 litre beef stock
1 cup sweet vermouth
1 bay leaf
6 sprigs thyme
6 sprigs parsley
3 teaspoons sugar
Salt flakes and black pepper
Vegetable oil, for frying
Melt the butter in a large cast-iron pan over medium heat. Add the onions, carrot, celery, and garlic and sweat.
While the vegetables are sautéing, combine 1 cup flour, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper in a bowl. Lightly dredge the oxtail in the flour mixture and add the oxtail to the vegetables. Brown the oxtail on all sides. Pour in the absinthe and very carefully flambé. Let the fire burn out before adding the red wine, beef stock, sweet vermouth, bay leaf, thyme, parsley, and sugar. Cover and gently simmer for 3 hours.
Once the oxtail is tender, remove the meat from the braising liquid and allow it to cool. Reserve the braising liquid; we’re going use it to pour over the burger.
In the meantime, in a deep fryer or a deep heavy-bottomed pan with at least 5 cm of oil, preheat your fry oil to 170˚C. Using an immersion blender, puree the braising liquid and reduce the sauce over medium--high heat until it has the consistency of a gravy, about 20 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cover the jus and keep it warm until ready to serve.
Once the oxtail has cooled to a manageable temperature, use your fingers to debone and shred the meat. You’ll find the shredded meat molds easily. Shape the shredded oxtail into compact patties for frying. In a small bowl, combine the remaining flour, salt, and pepper. Dredge the patties in the flour mixture and fry for about 5 minutes, or until crispy on the outside. When you’re ready to plate, finish the oxtail patties with a healthy drizzle of jus.
Roasted Physalis Shallot Compote
Makes about 4 servings (1/2 cup)
2 cups cape gooseberries (physalis), husks removed*
1 medium shallot clove, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
Pinch of salt flakes
* Cape gooseberries often arrive as a part of the late--summer/early--fall bounty at my local farmers’ market. I’ve also found them at Whole Foods. While physalis are pretty unique in flavor, cherries, like the Rainer varietal, would also work.
Preheat your oven to 190˚C. Place the cape gooseberries on a baking tray and roast for 15 minutes, or until soft. As the gooseberries roast, sauté the shallot in the olive oil over medium heat until translucent. Transfer the cape gooseberries, shallot (with olive oil), sugar, and vinegar to a blender and puree. Add the puree to a small pan and reduce the mixture until it begins to thicken, stirring frequently. Season with a pinch of salt. Allow the compote to cool completely before serving. Store airtight in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
What does a phallus patty of pickled goodness have to do with whiskey anyway? Turns out, the answer is “everything.” If you aren’t already familiar with the Pickleback, you’re only hurting yourself. The concept is simple: a shot of whiskey, followed by a shot of pickle juice. For this burger, I’ve changed the game but kept the rules the same. A shot of whiskey (traditionally Old Crow or Jameson is used for Picklebacks, but feel free to mix it up) followed by a mouthful of fried pickle, spicy cabbage slaw, beer--braised pork cheek, and naughty cheddar--beer sauce.
IPA Cheddar Cheese Sauce (page 187)
Beer--Braised Pork Cheeks (page 126)
1 Double--Fried Pickle “Patty” (page 160)
Red Cabbage Slaw (page 219)
1 Pretzel roll
Makes about 5 cups “Boozy cheese sauce” pretty much sums up my game on every first date I’ve ever been on. This crowd--pleaser is super simple—-because of science.
1/2 cup cold beer or wine
13 grams sodium citrate*
6 cups sharp white cheddar, shredded
* You can find this emulsifier online.
Combine the booze of your choice with the sodium citrate in a small heavy--bottomed saucepan and bring to a simmer. Stir the mixture until the sodium citrate dissolves, then add the shredded cheese. Continue to stir the sauce until the cheese has completely melted, about 2 minutes. Use an immersion blender to obtain a smooth texture. Serve hot, on everything.
IPA Cheddar Cheese Sauce: For this sauce I use a nice hoppy India Pale Ale for the booze.
Riesling Cheddar Cheese Sauce: I use a dry Riesling in this sauce.
Beer--Braised Pork Cheeks
Let’s be honest. I could close my eyes, point at a butchered pig, and be satisfied with whichever cut resulted. That said, pork cheeks are about as good as it gets. Born to be braised, pork cheeks stand out as uniquely tender, while being incredulously lean and full of flavor. • Makes roughly 1 litre
1/2 cup plain flour
1 teaspoon salt flakes, plus more
1 teaspoon black pepper, plus more for seasoning
900 g pork cheek
2 tablespoons extra--virgin olive oil
1/2 red onion, quartered
2 stalks celery, roughly chopped
2 or 3 cloves garlic, smashed
4 guajillo chiles*
2 cups pork stock
1 can IPA beer
1 teaspoon juniper berries*
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
1/2 orange, quartered
1 bay leaf
8 sprigs coriander
6 sprigs thyme
Preheat the oven to 150˚C.
Combine the flour, salt, and black pepper in a small bowl. Remove any remaining silver skin from each of the cheeks, and lightly dredge the cheeks in the flour mixture.
Preheat a large cast-iron or heavy--bottomed pot over high heat with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Sear each side of the cheeks in the pot. Once browned, set aside and allow the meat to rest. You can do this in batches, if need be.
In the same pot, heat the remaining tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and celery and sauté. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper. Once the onion begins to soften, add the garlic and chiles, stirring as needed. Continue to cook until the garlic is fragrant. Add the pork stock, beer, juniper berries, peppercorns, orange quarters, bay leaf, coriander, and thyme. You can add more beer (or water) to makes sure the pork cheeks are fully submerged. Bring
everything to a boil and cover the pot with foil. Put the pot in the oven and braise until the cheeks are incredibly tender and falling apart, 3 to 4 hours.
When they’re finished braising, remove the cheeks from the liquid, allowing them to cool slightly. Once you can safely handle the cheeks with your hands, shred them using your fingers, and place in a bowl with a little bit of the braising broth. This will keep the meat nice and succulent.
Double--Fried Pickle “Patties”
Simply put, these patties are kind of a big dill. Somebody whiskey me. • Makes 4 patties
6 dill pickle spears, halved and drained on paper towels
11/2 cups plain flour
1 teaspoon salt flakes, plus more
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 cup polenta
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 large egg, lightly beaten
One 350 ml can of IPA-style beer
Canola oil, for deep--frying
To make a pickle “patty,” skewer 3 spear halves with two toothpicks (one from the left and one from the right). To make the patty nice and compact, the two outside pickles should be facing up and the middle one facing down. Repeat until you’re out of spears.
Drain the patties on paper towels (the last thing you want is hot oil splattering in your face as you deep--fry these puppies).
In a deep fryer or a deep heavy-bottomed pan with at least 5 cm of oil, preheat your fry oil to 190˚C. (It’s important to keep the oil hot or your pickles will get mushy.)
Set up a dredging station: Combine ½ cup of the flour, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1 teaspoon black pepper in a small bowl. In a second bowl, combine the remaining 1 cup flour and the polenta, baking powder, cumin, cayenne, egg, and beer. Whisk the batter until all of the ingredients are fully incorporated.
Dredge the pickle patties in the flour mixture and then fully submerge in the beer batter. Carefully place the patties in the hot oil and fry until golden brown. Use tongs to gently handle the patties, as they’re a little fragile. Drain the pickle patties on paper towels and allow them to cool and crisp for about a minute.
Using the tongs again, take the fried pickle patties and once again submerge them in the beer batter and then the hot oil. That’s right, we’re double--frying these dudes. Once fried to a golden crisp, remove them from the oil and drain on paper towels. Allow your fried pickles to cool before serving. Season with a sprinkle of salt.
Red Cabbage Slaw
Makes about 4 cups
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
1/2 teaspoon caraway seeds
4 cups shredded red cabbage (about ½ cabbage)
1 jalapeño, seeded and finely chopped
1/2 red onion, diced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh coriander
1/4 cup lime juice (about 2 limes, juiced)
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon Sriracha sauce
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
Salt flakes and black pepper
Warm a small heavy--bottomed pan over medium heat and toast the sesame and caraway seeds, shaking the pan occasionally, until the seeds darken slightly and become fragrant. Remove the seeds from the heat, as they will quickly burn.
Toss together the cabbage, jalapeño, onion, coriander, sesame seeds, caraway seeds, lime juice, vinegar, Sriracha, olive oil, sesame oil, and salt and pepper to taste in a large bowl. Allow the flavors to meld in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour before serving. Store airtight in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
Pornburger by Mathew Ramsey (Murdoch Books, £16.99). Photography by Mathew Ramsey