When Tyler Florence was creating hamburgers for his new restaurant, his goal was simple — a burger that stays moist no matter how well-done it is cooked.
The solution was all a matter of numbers — one month of experimenting with the percentage of fat and the number of cuts of meat.
“Most people do an 80-20 lean-to-fat ratio,” Florence, whose Wayfare Tavern opened recently in San Francisco, said in a telephone interview. “We go 75-to-25 ratio, so it’s a little fattier. So even if you like it well done, it’s still nice and moist.”
For the cuts of meat, Florence settled on four of them — prime rib, brisket, skirt steak and filet. And after they are ground (at another facility), it’s mostly a hands-off procedure.
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“When it comes in, no one is really allowed to touch it except to take it out of the package and weigh it out,” said Florence, host of Food Network’s “The Great Food Truck Race.” “It gets touched once before it goes on the grill. It loses that fluffiness once you work it too much. It starts to become chewy really quickly.”
Florence was equally exacting when it came toppings.
“You can’t just put stuff on top of the burger for the sake of it,” he said. “To me, it’s got to be very purposeful stuff. You have to really think it through so it’s a complimentary flavor and not a distraction from the burger.”
For the Burgers of Summer series, Florence opted for an intensely savory and creamy combination of oven-roasted red onions, lemon aioli and brie.
Wayfare Tavern Burger Buns
q 1 cup warm water
q 1/4 cup warm whole milk
q 1/4-ounce package active dry yeast
q 2-1/2 tablespoons sugar
q 2 eggs
q 3 cups bread flour
q 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
q 1-1/2 teaspoons salt
q 2-1/2 tablespoons unsalted cold butter, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
n Start to finish: 2-1/2 hours (20 minutes active)
n Makes 8 buns
n In a medium bowl, combine the water, milk, yeast and sugar until well blended. Let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes.
n In a small bowl, lightly beat one of the eggs.
n In a large bowl, whisk together the bread flour, all-purpose flour and salt.
n Gradually add the butter, beaten egg, and yeast mixture, mixing with a pastry scraper or clean hands until a sticky dough forms.
n Knead this mixture on a clean, well-floured surface for 6 to 8 minutes, or until the dough is smooth.
n Place the dough in a large bowl, cover with a clean towel and let stand for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, or until the dough has doubled in size.
n Divide the dough into 8 portions. Roll each portion into a ball and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet about 2 inches apart. Cover the pan loosely with plastic wrap and let stand for another hour, or until the rolls have risen slightly.
n When ready to bake, place a large shallow pan of water on the floor of the oven and heat the oven to 400 F.
n In a small bowl, lightly beat the remaining egg with 1 tablespoon of water. Brush the mixture over the top of each roll. Bake the rolls for 15 to 20 minutes, or until golden.
n Transfer the rolls to a rack and let cool completely.
Wayfare Tavern Lemon Aioli
q 1 egg yolk
q Juice of 1/2 lemon
q 2/3 cup grapeseed oil
q Salt and ground black pepper
n Start to finish: 5 minutes
n Makes 1 cup
n In a food processor, combine the yolk and lemon juice. Pulse until just combined.
n With the processor running, gradually pour in the grapeseed oil. Process until the mixture is creamy and emulsified.
n Season with salt and pepper, then cover and chill until ready to serve.
Wayfare Tavern Burger
q 1/2 pound ground prime rib
q 1 pound ground brisket
q 1 pound ground skirt steak
q 1/2 pound ground filet
q 8 hamburger buns (recipe above)
q Kosher salt and pepper
q 1 large red onion, sliced into 1/4-inch rings
q 1 cup lemon aioli (recipe above)
q 1/2 pound brie (Florence favors Cowgirl Creamery Triple Cream Brie), cut into thin slices
n Start to finish: 20 minutes
n Servings: 8
n In a large bowl, mix the prime rib, brisket, skirt steak and filet together until well blended, but not overworked.
n Divide the meat into 8 portions and shape into patties. Season with salt and pepper.
n Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
n Arrange the onion slices in a single layer on the prepared pan. Roast the onion slices for 10 to 12 minutes, or until tender. Set aside.
n Heat the grill on high.
n Grill the burgers to desired doneness, about 4 minutes on each side for medium-rare.
n Top the bottom half of each roll with a burger, some of the red onions, aioli and brie.
n Nutrition information per serving (values are rounded to the nearest whole number): 1,078 calories; 560 calories from fat; 63 g fat (22 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 232 mg cholesterol; 68 g carbohydrate; 58 g protein; 3 g fiber; 921 mg sodium.