Dan Hong has serious cheeseburger cred. The one he created for Potts Point restaurant Lotus helped ignite Sydney’s love affair for the outstanding hand-held meal. Made from a combination of ground brisket, chuck and dry-aged beef fat, the burger won over every heart it helped clog.
Then there are his cheeseburger spring rolls at Ms G’s, a fusion of two snacks so perfect it even spawned supermarket knock-offs.
So when he announced on Instagram he would make cheeseburgers for his Isolation Cooking Series, we got a little bit excited. He’s been creating easy, unpretentious dishes for whoever wanted to watch, using a phone to capture him in his home kitchen surrounded by his three enthusiastic kids/apprentices/harsh critics.
“This isn’t the Lotus burger, because there are too many components and too many techniques that go into that one,” he says in the video as his kids play in the background.
In fact, these burgers – created with grilled beef, cheese, raw white onions, dill pickles, Heinz ketchup and American mustard – take their inspiration from his favourite McDonald’s burgers: the cheeseburger and the hamburger.
He uses soft buns (he gets his from Bread Top) – definitely not brioche or crusty rolls – and says for an authentic experience you should seek out American processed burger cheese.
Importantly, he says to buy the best quality mince you can from a good butcher, ideally a mix of chuck and brisket. And if you only take one thing away from this recipe, let it be this: no seasoning. “I haven’t seasoned them at all,” says Hong. “The biggest no-no when you are doing burger patties is putting in seasoning and dried herbs [and] breadcrumbs. And no ketchup – none of that crap. Okay? Coz that’s not a hamburger. You know what that is? A rissole.”
“What’s your favourite part of the hamburger?” Hong’s daughter asks him as the Mr Wong executive chef takes his first bite at the end of the video, before answering the question herself: “Mine is the cheese and the patty and bun.”
Dan Hong’s at-home cheeseburger
Makes 6 burgers
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 10 minutes
6 soft burger buns
Enough quality grain-fed mince sourced from a decent butcher (ideally a mix of chuck and brisket), to make six large patties
Oil, for frying 6 slices American burger cheese
Dill pickles, sliced into thin rounds
Raw white onion, finely chopped
American mustard (like French’s)
Roll the unseasoned beef mince into balls, then flatten into evenly-sized discs, a few centimetres larger in diameter than the buns.
Prepare some boiling water in a pot and place a steamer on top.
Heat a little oil in a solid cast iron or stainless steel frying pan over a high heat until smoking hot. Season the beef patties with a little salt, then place them onto the shimmering oil and press them down with a spatula immediately.
Cook until the edges of the meat changes from red to grey (2 to 3 minutes). Flip the meat, turn the heat down to low, then top each patty with a slice of cheese. Place a lid (or plate) on the hot pan to trap the steam (this will help melt the cheese).
Place buns into steamer for 20 seconds.
Spread a few teaspoons of mustard on the bottom half of each bun, and a teaspoon of ketchup. Add the patty with the melted cheese, then top with a layer of pickles.
Squeeze a few more teaspoons of ketchup on the inside of the top half of the bun, sprinkle with raw onions, and place on top of the burger.