Burger Wars: The Sauce

Previously, on tastingmenu.wordpress.com

* https://tastingmenu.wordpress.com/2014/09/09/matsuhisa-slider-tofu-buns/

So for Superbowl Sunday, my wife and I thought we’d do burgers for dinner.  And in keeping with the spirit of the occasion, I thought I’d make a little competition of it.  Back in 2011, there was something of a taste test between some popular burgers (see http://aht.seriouseats.com/archives/2011/05/in-n-out-vs-five-guys-vs-shake-shack-the-first-bi-coastal-side-by-side-taste-test.html ).  Shake Shack has a branch in Chestnut Hill and since they came out on top, I thought I’d test their sauce against the one from Nobu.   The sauce recipes can be found here:

* http://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/2009/10/the-fake-shack-shake-shack-burger-recipe.html
* http://www.four-magazine.com/articles/1482/fourusa-four-recipes-from-nobu

So the microbatch recipe for Shake/Fake Shack Burger sauce was:

2 oz Hellman’s Mayonnaise
1/2 T mustard (Coleman’s Mustard)
1/2 T ketchup (Heinz)
2 slices of dill kosher pickle
1/8t garlic powder
1/8t smoked paprika
pinch of cayenne

Ingredients for the Shake/Fake Shack Burger Sauce

Ingredients for the Shake/Fake Shack Burger Sauce

So I began by finely mincing the pickle.  Now, I couldn’t get the kosher dill pickle sliced rounds; I estimated that the circular slices were about ~1.5″ across.  I pulled out a strip from the jar, cut it into ~1.5″ pieces and minced 2 of those pieces for the sauce (the other piece I ate!).

2 ~1.5" slice sections of kosher dill pickle finely minced (top pickle strip as an example of what I minced)

2 ~1.5″ slice sections of kosher dill pickle finely minced (top pickle strip as an example of what I minced)

At this point it was just a matter of adding the mustard, ketchup, garlic powder, paprika and dash of cayenne.

1/2 T of Coleman's mustard and Heinz ketchup

1/2 T of Coleman’s mustard and Heinz ketchup

1/8 t of garlic powder...

1/8 t of garlic powder…

...an 1/8t of smoked paprika

…an 1/8t of smoked paprika

garlic powder, paprika and a pinch of cayenne added to the mix of mustard and ketchup

garlic powder, paprika and a pinch of cayenne added to the mix of mustard and ketchup

To complete the sauce, I just had to blend all the ingredients into 4 tablespoons of mayonnaise.

Adding 4 tablespoons of mayonnaise

Adding 4 tablespoons of mayonnaise

What the Shake/Fake Shack Sauce should look like

What the Shake/Fake Shack Sauce should look like once everything is blended

I took a quick taste of the sauce and it reminded me very much of the flavor of a Shake Shack burger, including that ‘smoky’ bite which I expect came from the use of the smoked paprika.

And the microbatch recipe for the Nobu truffle burger sauce was:

Ingredients for Nobu Burger Sauce

Ingredients for Nobu Burger Sauce

Truffle Mayonnaise Microbatch version
5T + 1/2t + 1/4t +1/8t Hellman’s Mayonnaise
1/2 T truffle oil
1/2 T + 1 t + 1/8 t honey
1/2t yuzu juice
1/2 T truffle

I began making the Nobu mayonnaise base by mincing up 1 black summer truffle.  This turned out to yield 1 tablespoon of minced truffle, half of which I reserved for another dish for another time.

Slicing up a black summer truffle...

Slicing up a black summer truffle…

...then mincing up the black truffle as finely as possible

…then mincing up the black truffle as finely as possible (the remaining minced truffle was reserved for another dish…)

The addition of the truffle oil gave this mayonnaise a heady aromatic hit that was complemented by the addition of the yuzu juice.

Adding in the aromatic truffle oil

Adding in the aromatic truffle oil

In went some yuzu juice

In went some yuzu juice…

What I found surprising was the addition of honey to this mix.

measuring out the honey

measuring out the honey…

...to be added to the mix

…to be added to the mix

All to blended into the mayonnaise base for the sauce

…All to be blended into the mayonnaise base for the sauce…

...that should look like this

…that should look like this

Nobu Burger Sauce  Microbatch version
1T  mustard (Coleman’s Mustard)
2T + 2t + 1/4t + 1/8t ketchup
~1/4t tabasco
3T + 1/2T truffle mayonnaise

To finish making the sauce, I extracted some of the truffle mayonnaise and blended in the mustard, tabasco, and ketchup.

using of the mayonnaise base

using 3 1/2 tablespoons of the mayonnaise base

Adding the Coleman's mustard...

Adding the Coleman’s mustard…

...then the tasbasco sauce!

…then the tasbasco sauce!

...and finally the ketchup

…and finally the ketchup

...ad this is what the Nobu Burger sauce should look like

…and this is what the Nobu Burger sauce should look like

I must say I was really taken by surprise on how aromatic the Nobu burger sauce was.  This was going to be an interesting taste test.   So to focus on the sauce, I used the same ground beef burger (85% lean) from Whole Foods and used brioche slider buns for the bread.  The

Iggy's Bioche Slider Buns for the taste test

Iggy’s Bioche Slider Buns for the taste test

focus difference would be the sauces. The taste test idea I had was:

* 1 slider was burger, bun, Nobu sauce
* 1 slider was burger, bun, Shake Shack sauce.
* 1 slider was burger, bun, lettuce, roma tomato slice, Nobu sauce
* 1 slider was burger, bun, lettuce, roma tomato slice, Shake Shack sauce

So split open 8 buns (2 test series, one for myself and one for my wife).  I prepared 1 1/3 lbs of hamburger meat into 8 equal portions, shaped by the food ring which I’d used in making the Nobu tofu bun.  I seasoned each slider patty with 2 3-fingered

slider patties prepared into their individual portions

slider patties prepared into their individual portions

pinches of 4:1 salt/pepper mix on each side.  The slider patties were cooked in a hot pan with a little grapeseed oil at 50% max heat

cooking up the slider patties

cooking up the slider patties

for about 3 1/2 minutes a side.

Slider plating presentation

Slider plating presentation

For two pairs of the spltit brioche bins, a placed a bit of lettuce leaf, a slice of tomato, a slider patty and then 1 teaspoon of the Nobu burger sauce on 1 slider and 1 teaspoon of the Shake Shack sauce on the other slider.  I took a similar approach to the two sliders without lettuce tomato.

Clockwise from top left: lettuce/tomato slider with Nobu Sauce, lettuce/tomato slider with Shake Shack sauce, slider with only Shake Shack sauce, slider with only Nobu sauce

Clockwise from top left: Nobu sauce lettuce/tomato slider,  Shake Shack lettuce/tomato slider, slider with only Shake Shack Sauce, slider with only Nobu Sauce

After talking it over with my wife, we both agreed that the slider(s) with the Nobu burger sauce reminded one of ‘steak with aromatic truffles’ which gave way to a little sweetness (due the honey) after the third bite and a little bit acidic bite/brightness due to the yuzu juice and tabasco sauce. The slider(s) with the Shake Shack sauce gave us the impression of a barbeque burger – the smokiness, no doubt coming from the paprika and garlic powder.  While my wife liked them both, she concluded she had more a preference for the Shake Shack sliders, while I was more inclined to the Nobu sliders.

For the next round Burger Wars, I’d like to check out how the Nobu burger beef mix (1 part filet mignon, 1 part ribeye) matches up with Shake Shack’s mix (2 parts sirloin, 1 part chuck, 1 part brisket).

All in all, there were no losers – just a really good meal.

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