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Friday, August 26, 2011

Cafe Salle Pleyel Hamburger - French Fridays with Dorie

I've missed the last two FFWD recipes--the salmon in a jar scared me, and my husband despises eggplant. But there can be no excuse for not trying what's advertised as having a taste that's "forbidden, ... illicit, ... subversive, even." While I'll admit I didn't think it tasted subversive, it was, in Minnesota speak, a pretty darned good burger.

No matter how fancy or subversive the sandwich, of course, its ultimate quality rests with the quality of the ground beef. I visited my amazing butcher shop, Clancey's, to get a pound and a half of their best ground beef.

The ground beef is the basic part. The fancy part is a mixture of sun-dried tomatoes, fresh parsley and tarragon, cornichons, and capers.

The subversive part (in my opinion, at least) is the onion jam. Very simple to make, actually--just a mixture of chopped red onion, water, butter, and ground coriander, left to simmer on the stove while you're dealing with the herbs and pickly things.

I used my immersion blender to try to get a paste out of the above-mentioned herbs and pickly things, and discovered that cornichons are not amenable to being blended by my little machine that usually works so well. The pieces of pickle were therefore a little larger than envisioned by the Cafe Salle Pleyel chef, but I liked biting into an occasional piece of tangy cornichon.

I used the grill instead of a skillet. It's the end of August, after all, and fall is already in the air, making one acutely aware that the end of the grilling season is in sight.

I loved the shards of Parmesan. I'm sure you could use another cheese, but the Parmesan worked well and it's almost always on hand.

The shards of dill pickle were, on the other hand, the least essential part of the sandwich. I'm a big fan of dill pickles, so it surprises me to say this, but I think they overwhelmed the more subtle taste of the cornichons and the otherwise balanced flavors. But maybe my supermarket dill pickles just weren't up to par. They definitely didn't seem subversive.

Because I cook for just two, I often halve Dorie's recipes. I made the full recipe this time. We had the fancy-schmancy hamburgers two nights in a row, and were glad we did. Even three nights running wouldn't have been excessive. And I still have four sesame seed buns in the freezer, just waiting to receive the next batch of French hamburgers.


  1. The cut of meat definitely was key in making these successful!
    We grilled ours as well - and were so glad we did. Yum

  2. Love this burger and I use mozzarrela and it tasted great too. Love how you grilled yours, I just pan fried them :p but it taste just as good :)

  3. It's a true sign of a great recipe when you want to eat it meal after meal! So glad you enjoyed the burgers so much.

  4. I had my leftovers for lunch today. I generally cannot stomach reheated burgers but all the add ins in these made them really good, even the second time around!

  5. Nice job on the burgers. I agree about the quality of the meat. We get our meat from a meat CSA and the ground beef is unbeatable.

  6. I thought the subversive part was actually mixing the herbs, tomatoes and capers into the meat. I have Bobby Flay's burger book and he's definitely not into mixing condiments into the meat. Great job, Marie!

  7. Getting good quality meat for burgers is so important, especially if you like them less than well-done.

    I used Asiago on my burgers and it worked really well. These burgers were a hit for us.

  8. Your parmesan shavings look perfect! And I completely agree on using the best ground meat for a burger.