Wednesday, May 14, 2003

Not your average burger: Try it with bearnaise

Here's How

By Marilyn Harris
Enquirer contributor

Bearnaise sauce with filet mignon is certainly a favorite. So, why not the same blend of flavors on a burger?

Normally the best ground beef choice for a juicy burger is one that has about 15 percent fat, such as ground chuck. Because this recipe adds fat, as well as extra moisture with the addition of the onion and garlic sauteed in olive oil, you should use the leanest ground beef possible. I usually use ground sirloin.

If you don't mind going to a little extra trouble, purchase lean top sirloin or top round steak and grind it yourself in the food processor using the steel cutting blade. Trim away all of the visible fat and cut the meat into 1-inch cubes. Do this an hour or so before you plan to grind the meat so it can be chilled.

This "faux" bearnaise sauce resembles the real thing because the flavors used in the sauce are the same. Instead of the melted butter and eggs that form the base of true bearnaise, I simply use a good commercial mayonnaise and add the same flavor mixture in the traditional sauce. Not only does it make a lighter sauce, but it is also more in keeping with the casual burger versus a steak.

Make this sauce hours ahead and store it in the refrigerator, all ready to dollop onto the hot burger when it comes off of the grill. You could use a light mayonnaise for this recipe, but I can tell you it won't taste nearly as good.

Finally, please note the instructions for turning the burgers only once and not pressing them with a spatula while they cook. That's so the juices remain in the burger instead of dripping into the grill.

Gourmet Burgers with Bearnaise Mayonnaise


3 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1 medium sweet salad onion, finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/4 cup dry white wine

2 pounds lean ground beef

2 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

2 teaspoon fine sea salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Buns and lettuce


2 large shallots, peeled and finely minced

1/3 cup white wine vinegar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon hot pepper sauce

1 teaspoon dijon mustard

2 tablespoon finely chopped Italian parsley

2 tablespoon finely chopped fresh tarragon

1 cup mayonnaise

Heat olive oil in a heavy skillet. Add the onion and garlic and saute over high heat, stirring, for 2 minutes. Pour in the wine and cook over high to reduce by half. Remove and cool.

Toss the cooled onion mixture, mustard, vinegar, salt and pepper into the ground beef. Form into 6 to 8 patties, using the gentlest touch possible when forming the burgers. Chill until ready to cook.

Grill burgers over a medium-hot preheated grill to desired doneness. Turn only once, about two-thirds of the way through the cooking time. Don't press with the spatula while cooking. Serve on fresh buns topped with a dollop of Bearnaise Mayonnaise and a crisp lettuce leaf. Makes 6 to 8 burgers.

To make Bearnaise Mayonnaise, bring shallots and vinegar to a boil in a small non-reactive saucepan. Boil until vinegar is reduced to 1 tablespoon. Remove and cool.

Stir the shallot mixture, salt, hot pepper sauce, mustard and herbs into the mayonnaise. Chill until ready to use. Best used within 24 hours. Makes about 1 cup, enough for 6 to 8 servings.

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