Monday, May 10, 2010

Animal Style

I recently lucked into some free beef, and I didn't even have to buy any tires. My old friend, mentor and high school geology teacher Dick Pugh (yeah, yeah, "what a name," but he's like 80 so shut the fuck up) was coming over to my house for dinner a few weeks ago, and "do you want some beef," he asked. Knowing that he raises Scottish Highland cattle, possibly the cutest of all meats, I vehemently accepted his offer. It's not every day you get free meat, especially not grass-fed (and finished) beef that was raised as a pet. All of his cattle get the sweetheart treatment and are only put down at the end of their natural lives.

He brought us some steak of various cuts and some ground round, and into the freezer it went. I pulled a pound of ground out of the freezer, but by the time it was thawed I hadn't come up with any clever ideas for dinner. I wanted to do the creature justice, but ground beef only has a few applications, and I was sick of eating Spag Bol. I had some pretty nice grainy hamburger buns, but nothing to put on a burger but cheese and iceberg. So even though we don't live in California, I decided we were having In-N-Out for dinner.

In-N-Out is famous for having secret ways to order your food. My favorite way of a burger there is Animal Style - that's with grilled onions, melted cheese and chunky thousand island-type dressing called "spread" (which is what happens to your ass when you eat too much of this shit). Lettuce is also a must, and iceberg is canon for fast food-style burgers. [Editor's Note: It was just brought to my attention that this is incorrect. Animal Style means the patty was cooked with mustard and comes with pickles and extra spread. I was thinking of the toppings on Animal Style Fries, but on the burger. Serious Eats made this same mistake and they won a fucking James Beard Award for best blog, so save your fist-shaking.]

Divide the pound of beef into two - yes two - patties. What are you gonna do with a half pound of ground beef in your fridge? Make a tiny amount of meat sauce? Just stop kidding yourself and use it all up now. I add only salt and pepper to the meat (the only integrity I can muster), and smush a handful of finely minced onions into the top of each patty.

Let the patties sit for a few minutes and come up to room temperature. Aw, jeez, stop worrying about germs, just keep your kitchen clean and you won't have to worry about meat sitting out for a few minutes. Get your grill pan rippin' hot and delight in the high-pitched squeal your patties emit when they sear on that hot pan. You'd better not fuck with those patties until it's time to flip them. Don't you dare smash them with the spatula or make any other fool move. Just...don't. Okay, after 6 or 7 minutes or so, flip the burgers.

Meanwhile, chop up some pickles (I use Krüegermann Mixed Pickle Salad because I have a giant jar of it) and mix this with a spoonful each mayo and ketchup. This is your "spread." Finely slice some iceberg lettuce into shreds. This is your "serving of vegetables."

After the burger cooked on the other side for 6 or 7 minutes, flip it again, turn off the heat, and top your patty with sliced cheese. Normally, I would vote for American for a burger like this, but we only had Havarti (besides, my hippie whole-grain buns ruined everything so I may as well run with it). Put your buns (cut-side down) on the still-hot pan to get toasty and to soak up some of that onion-y fond and grease. Apply a thick shmear of spread to each side of the toasty bun, then add the burger and a handful of iceberg shreds.

Serve with fries and an ice-cold cola (duh).

24 comments:

Foodycat said...

Nice. Really, really nice! Your man Mr Pugh sounds excellent.

Bellini Valli said...

I did have the In and Out burger joint pointed out to me when in San Francisco. I will have to check it out for the first time on my next trip. It is a California legend like the Whitespot's Triple-O's is here in BC.

Miss Irene said...

Animal Style totally has grilled onions on it. I'm a constant animal style orderer. Who told you that was a mistake?

Christine said...

Oh wow, oh wow. I've never been to an In and Out. But I know that this weekend we're totally going to buy some nice beef from the farmer's market, and this will be its fate. Oh yum. Also that might be the cutest cow I ever did see.

B & D said...

wow..thats one hell of a burger!!yummm!!!

Manggy said...

But, but... I read this blog and not Serious Eats. So guess which one wins in my book ;) I hope it's not too sacrilegious if I have ketchup and mustard on mine...

Lori said...

Animal style wins everything! And so does Mr.Pugh and his pet burger!

The Spiteful Chef said...

There's no shame in making a good burger for dinner. Honestly, if I had a dollar for every shittily prepared burger I'd had in my life, I'd be...well...rich enough to go buy the ingredients and make a damned good one. Yours look juicy, and I really want to snuggle one of those cows. Anyway, own that shit. Just like you should own tots and mac and chee and chili dogs. Dinner that is delicious doesn't have to be high-minded.

Though I can think of a lot of uses for ground beef. Burgers being one of the best, but there are lots of uses.

Heather said...

Alicia - He is excellent. :)

Val - I really think regional burger joints are the best. Our Burgerville in Oregon and Washington is my favorite.

Irene - A buddy of mine just pointed out that the "fried in mustard" is what makes it Animal Style (the other stuff is on the menu).

Christine - Aren't those cows adorable? Seriously, almost too cute to eat. Way cuter than a lamb or bunny.

B & D - "One hell of a" is the only way to burger.

Marky! - Those are two of my favorite condiments, and the mustard is evidently supposed to be there anyway.

Lo - Pet burgers! Haha. Easier than keeping cats, I'd hazard.

Kristie - A burger is the purest expression of ground beef. Anything else requires too much fluff and adulteration.

cindy* said...

i'm gonna have to agree with irene on the animal style thing...my fiance is a fiend for in-n-out and it's near his office, he's all about animal style :) he eats there (shamefully) at least once a week.

either way, the burgers look great and if we ever move away, i will definitely try to recreate this burger at home!

Ken Albala said...

OH, I could SURE go for this one! And I don't even like IN-N-OUT. Well, not the chain I mean. Must be followed by some really dirty sex. What is it about messy food?? Do you think you could get Padma Laxmi to eat this for you and film her??

butterface said...

Jesus. That burger gives me a wetty. It's beautiful.
Can I have an ice cold beer with mine please?

I have never had an In and Out burger. I know. We have Dick's here, which I consider to be grossly over rated. I imagine this smokes them all.

Francine said...

I can't wait to try this...I am an In N Out addict when I'm on the West Coast. It's my first and last stop on arrival and departure....this recipe is very promising!!

Caviar and Codfish said...

Worrying about your meat sit out for a few minutes? Shit, I leave steaks out for hours before cooking.

peter said...

Beer is better than cola, and grass-fed is why I don't go to burger chains (even cult ones).

I'm actually getting more into adding things to the burger, like minced alliums, herbs, and grated lardo or prosciutto. Especially with grass-fed beef, since cured pork fat is what it's missing.

You really should have posted a pic of Malcolm McDowell in A Clockwork Orange along with this for best effect.

Jonny said...

i was "petting" (if you can call poking a cow nervously with your finger as petting) a highland the other day at a ghetto-ish winery in Long Island. They're a complete rarity over here (highlands not ghetto wineries) but even in UK, i've never knowingly eaten one. And that's not just because I'm prejudiced against gingers.

we are never full said...

i can not believe you wrote this and didn't make a wise-ass comment after it:

"he's like 80..." was coming over to my house for dinner a few weeks ago, and "do you want some beef," he asked.

no comment necessary.

i am SO on the wavelength w/ you about the shredded iceburg. i hate lettuce on my burgers unless it's shredded. nice one!!!

hope his hot beef injection was as beautiful as it looks!

ps: can you believe i've never had an in-n-out burger?

We Are Never Full said...

DUDE, my husband commented before me!?!? WHAT THE FUCK!/

Heather said...

Cindy - Thank you, I thought I was right but just in case I wanted to include a disclaimer.

Ken - It sounds like you've been cooped up grading papers too long, you salty dog.

B (is this Brookie or Britty?) - In-N-Out is aight, it just tastes like fast food. I'll hafta try Dick's next time I come up.

Francine - It really is easy to make homemade food taste like fast food with the simple addition of thousand island dressing!

Robin - I know! It's how you get the perfect medium rare. Germ-phobes are so lame.

Jube - This beef is so juicy that it actually doesn't even need pork fat (gasp)! The flavor of it is so intense and grassy that I wouldn't want to muddy it anyways.

Jonny - Unlike other gingers, Highlands are actually cute. And tasty.

Amy - Yes, you got comment-pwnd by your own husband. (and ew, Mr. Pugh is basically Wilfred Brimley!)

DarinC_Nimmon18 said...

人生是故事的創造與遺忘。...............................................................

The Short (dis)Order Cook said...

*Drool* Yes, you were perfectly right to use all of that meat at once. Those burgers are a thing of beauty.

There are no In-and-Outs' on the east coast, so while I know I'm missing an experience, at least I know I can spare myself some embarassment.

BTW, one of my favorite teachers of all time was my second grade teacher, Mrs. Doody. Your old teacher is in good company.

Lo said...

Oh, that rocks so hard, Heather. I'm loving that Animal Style -- all that oozing goodness is totally up the right alley.

And you gotta love that Mr. Pugh.

matt said...

I want that.

Free beef rocks too, sounds like awesome stuff!

Hunter Angler Gardener Cook said...

Well-played. And welcome back to your old form! Me needs me one o'dem burgahs now...