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Gourmet Beef Burger Stacks

From Stacks: The Art of Vertical Food

2 pounds ground sirloin beef
6 tablespoons blue cheese
1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme
Salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
6 slices (preferably herbed) Brie

Roasted tomatoes (see shortcut tips below):
6 tomatoes, sliced into 1/4-inch-thick rounds
2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
Salt, to taste
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

3 large portobello mushrooms
2 tablespoons butter
Salt, to taste
Freshly ground pepper, to taste


Potato chips (see shortcut tips below):
3 sweet potatoes or russet potatoes, peeled and sliced very thin
4 cups vegetable oil for frying, or enough to submerge the potatoes in while frying
2 teaspoons (preferably sea) salt

Spicy onions:
2 cups cake flour
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
2 onions, sliced paper thin
4 cups vegetable oil for frying
2 teaspoons (preferably sea) salt

To serve:
6 (as thick as available) hamburger buns, split
2 bunches watercress, washed, trimmed, and dried
6 tablespoons Dijon mustard

To prepare burgers: Divide the beef into 6 even patties. Bury 1 tablespoon of blue cheese (a solid piece, not crumbled) into the center of each burger, enclosing it completely. Reshape patties and sprinkle with thyme, salt, and pepper.

To prepare tomatoes: Place the tomatoes in a single layer on a 12-by-17-inch sheet pan. Sprinkle with rosemary, salt, and pepper. Drizzle with oil and bake at 300°F for 3 hours, or until the tomatoes are almost dried but still have some moisture. Set aside.

To prepare mushrooms: Slice the mushrooms and sauté in butter until rich and glossy looking. Season with salt and pepper. Keep warm.

To make the potato chips: Heat the oil to 425°F. Carefully fry the potato slices until lightly browned and crisp. Drain on paper towels and sprinkle with salt. Set aside.

To make the onions: Mix together the flour and the cayenne. Set aside. Heat the oil to 425°F. Just before frying, dredge the onions in the flour mixture. Shake well to remove excess flour. Fry until golden brown, drain, sprinkle with salt. Set aside.

To assemble: Ten minutes before serving, grill or pan-fry the patties until cooked through, about 10 minutes. Place a slice of Brie on top of each hot patty and allow to melt. Toast or grill the buns and spread generously with mustard. Divide watercress into 6 portions and place on the bottom of buns. Layer in the following order: 1 beef patty, 3 slices roasted tomatoes, 3 slices sautéed mushrooms, 4 potato chips, and a generous dollop of fried onions. Serve immediately, with tops of buns leaning against the stack. Yields 6 servings.

Planning-ahead tips: Stuff the beef patties and chill. Roast the tomatoes the day before and chill. Make the sweet potato chips early in the day. Sauté the mushrooms 1 hour prior to serving.

Shortcut tips: Purchase sweet potato chips (or potato chips, if sweet potato chips are not available). Substitute store-bought, sun-dried tomatoes for the roasted tomatoes.



(Updated: 10/28/08 SN)

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