Extra Thick Sirloin Burgers


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I had a massive craving  for a home made  hamburger with Cajun fries over the weekend, but to do it right I had to pick up some essentials.  I’ve been lost in the kitchen without my cast iron skillet to cook with because I left mine back in California. I find the consistent heat of an iron skillet crucial for creating a great burger. Get it smoking hot, add a dash of extra virgin olive oil, and lay your patties away from you so you won’t get splashed. Fifteen seconds on each of the outside layers of your patty with encase all the juice in a nice crust and make for a juicy evenly cooked burger. Continue flipping every fifteen to twenty seconds for even temperature on the entire patty. I usually pull them off the fire and left them rest at right around two minutes for a medium to medium rare depending on thickness. Let them rest for a minimum of the amount of time they cooked.

Lets backtrack and talk about patty construction. Since finding quality ground beef here in the Philippines can be a bit of a challenge I bought two kilos of sirloin steak and requested for the butcher grind it fresh for me. There are many great choices for which cuts of meat to use for example chuck, rib eye, and sirloin are all classic picks. I’m pretty sure the butcher lady thought I was crazy when I asked her to try to keep all the strands of beef aligned as they came out of the grinder. Imagine a pack of spaghetti noodles. So here is a simple trick to the perfect patty.  Assuming the beef is laid out in horizontal strands, place about a kilo worth on a long strip of nice wide cling wrap. Salt the meat well , and with a little time this will keep all those strands from falling apart, and it’s the only binder you need.

IMG_2708 Delicately form into a roll inside a cling wrap cylinder and twist the ends tight like  a sausage casing. Refrigerate for an hours to let the salt do its work binding the  meat together and for the shape to set. Remove the ‘log’ from the fridge and slice  your burgers right through the plastic film. When you cut the patties and lay them  flat and the strands of the burger will then be vertical. So, just like cutting a steak  against the grain, when you bite into the burger it will be super tender. I’m a fan of a small circumference super thick patty vs. a thin huge wafer. Its so much juicier and more tasty that way, even if it looks a little funny until you squish it all down before your first bite.

 

Burgers are all about a combination of flavor. Standing alone the majority of each of my individual ingredients can be a bit strong tasting. But I think I planned the final combination well enough to achieve that “fifth” umami taste sensation.

I didn’t want to do lettuce. Gem lettuce is nice on a burger but usually ends up looking like wilted greens and tasting like not much at all. Ice burg is basically just water. I’ll save my romaine for a salad. I wanted something peppery, and with crunch. The ingredient that wouldn’t get drowned out by all my other strong contenders, and one of my favorite greens is Rocket Arugula.

Sprouts on this burger would provide that clean crispness to perk up some of the stronger aromas. I don’t care if you don’t like alfalfa sprouts. My mom put them on my sandwiches as a kid, so in my mind a burger is ‘missing something’ without them.

Next is avocado.  Maybe I was in Cali too long, and avocado is not something for every burger, but if I’m going with sprouts, I’m going with avocado. I think they go great with lemon pepper, so I made a spice blend of dried citrus rinds paired with crushed red and black peppercorns plus a little Maldon sea salt.  That also went onto of the most aromatic red tomatoes I could find. I almost did tomato compote, but I was going to be getting enough acidity from my aioli so I just went with thick fresh vine tomato slices.

IMG_2702  So on to the condiment. I hate mayo…unless it’s homemade that is. Combine egg  yolk, groundnut oil    (because its neutrally flavored) and a spoon of a wholegrain  horseradish mustard for a little bit of nasal  heat. Whisk until you get it emulsified.  Mince a garlic clove with some salt, the mash it with the side of  your knife. Add  the garlic paste to your mayo. Voila Aioli.

 

 

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Tallegio CheeseSo ok now lets talk cheese. Don’t get me wrong I love the cheapest processed cheese usually to achieve that nostalgic burger. But for this combo of flavors I needed something funky, and with a little bit of blue. I wanted to really make one bite of this burger make your brain hurt trying to figure out what the hell it tastes. I personally don’t like blue cheese. So I went to Santi’s and tried a few different cheeses. Brie de Meaux is cool, great texture and pretty funky. A creamy Gorgonzola is ok…a little too much like wet dog for me though. I found something that looked a little scary, it had a lot of veins of blue but the texture was creamy yet thicker than a Brie. I gave it a taste and the flavor profile took a journey from milky to sour. Then it went from velvety, to aromatic and odorous. The mouth feel was perfect, like all over the place. The name of the cheese is Fourme D’ Ambert and it is now in my top favorite cheeses right up there with freaky Taleggio.

So last but not least bread. You know what, with burger buns I suggest keeping it simple. A toasted white sesame bun will always be a classic with me. It will never be too soggy, and never too overpowering. Brioche is popular but it tends to melt into a sweet wet batter halfway through the meal. Toasted sourdough get a little scratchy, and tough. While there are a ton of good options for buns, try to pick something that really lets what is in between the bread shine.  Smear both sides with that aioli and you are in business.

Oops. I almost forgot the Cajun Battered Fries. Check out my recipe here.IMG_2771

allagash group 007I suggest a smooth ice-cold Belgium wheat beer to drink with this delicious meal. It’s a great pairing and really cleanses the palate of all the strong flavors. Allagash White Ale all day long. Fried potatoes, burgers, beers, yea that sounds like a good end of the week to me.

 

 

 

 

 

I did not take the Allagash picture, I wish I had access to all those varieties in the Philippines. Click here for the original photo.

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Go-To Restaurant: Woodfire


 

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In times of need, and when I can’t figure out what I want to eat I depend on my Go-To Restaurants.  This is my mental list of the places I have discovered so far, that in my opinion, prepare their food the best consistently

I will not be doing many restaurant reviews, and when I do, they will be more of suggestions than critiques. There will be no pointing of the critical finger, I am just pointing out a good place to eat. If you want to know where not to eat check another blog.

Woodfire is that little Italian joint wedged between Rambla and Refinery in the Rockwell neighborhood. My first time there was a definite “thank god, they do exist in Manila” moment. I had been in the country about a month and was feeling the pressure of finding good but affordable Italian food.  Having tried almost every restaurant in Rockwell (seriously), I decided to try Woodfire one night and it was incredible. It was so good that I came back for lunch there the following day. The dining area is small yet it promotes easy conversations to go along with a bottle of wine. The relaxed atmosphere is intimate and low pressure, and I imagine romantic with the right person. I have not had a bad dish here, the meat and cheese platters are great quality and quantity at an affordable price. The  brick oven pizzas are all fantastic and the fresh made pasta dishes may be some of the best in the city.

I often find myself there during off-hours in the middle of the afternoon, but the food is always piping hot and fresh and the staff always are friendly and attentive.

So I keep going back, and they always treat me like gold. They have a no BS approach to generous portions of simple yet beautifully presented fresh ingredients. Its delicious Italian, the way it should be. Check it out.

If you have a Go-To Restaurant that you love, please suggest it to me in the comments below. I can’t wait to try it out!

About Me


So lets get started. My name is Jonathan Beam, and I’ve been a lot of different things in my 30 years. Salesman, Electrician, Cook etc. I love to read and play the guitar, and I need music, art, and creativity in my life. Food is my passion. I didn’t realize it was so crucial to my happiness until I tried to do things that were strictly money-motivated. Food is what I look forward to the most, I don’t have to try, I don’t have to force it. It is my unfaltering fascination with it that turned my “hobby” into my forte.
I am from the South. Born in Baton Rouge in the heart of Louisiana Creole-Cajun country, and raised watching my single Mom cook.  I moved around a lot, but in the small towns of Arkansas I learned everything there is to know about real country cooking aka comfort food. It is there that I also discovered the kind of pride working with my hands can instill in a person.
Another move and I found myself in Houston, where I was schooled in Texas pit BBQ. A few years later, I found myself  in the trendiest L.A. kitchens where I was educated on all things farm fresh, only the way California can. I’m a strange fusion of some of the best food cultures in the States. My palate longs for spice and flavor, and creative yet simple meals. Real food. I’m not a picky eater but when you grow up on the other side of the globe things taste different. Ever since I came to the Philippines late last year, I’ve really missed these familiar flavors. Even if some of my favorite restaurants are here, I’ve taken matters into my own hands and have been cooking my own translation of American classics, fusing together the diverse food cultures I’ve been exposed to.
Don’t get me wrong. Filipino cuisine is tasty. Some of my favorite dishes to eat are cultural classics like tinolang manok, pork adobo, sinigang, and of course, rice. The ingredients here in Manila are beautiful as the city itself. The hot, humid weather and the fact that the ocean is my backyard reminds me so much of being back in Louisiana. The ingredient selections I had there are super similar to what I have here in Southeast Asia. The majority of the dishes in Filipino cuisine are either composed of pork, chicken, or fresh seafood.  The classic dishes here are influenced heavily by Spanish and French heritage just like in they are  in New Orleans.
Speaking of New Orleans, I’ve missed Creole country.  I get misty with the nostalgia of a roux-based dish, or gravy made in an iron skillet.  Or a crawfish boil with spices so hot, it makes you sweat. From the years I spent in Houston, I often crave sticky slabs of  ribs, a dry rubbed brisket, and a mountain of potato salad, Texas BBQ style. Have you ever had Boudin links wrapped in aluminum foil hot out of the steamer?  Or soft shell crab tacos loaded with avocado and green garlic?  I want those flavors in my life. I want cayenne and jalapeno, and the sacred Cajun trinity (celery, onion, bell pepper), the key to almost every Cajun dish done right.  I want to see those colors on my plate.
I would have never expected moving to many different cities would have affected my life so positively. It has exposed me to so many wonderful food traditions, and has made me the cook I am today. I have watched all my different experiences working in countless restaurants and all my vocations become tributaries toward growing my food hobby into a promising profession. It drives me to keep moving and keep evolving. Coming to Manila has exposed me to a whole other set of rules, recipes and culture to add to my personal food journey.
In many ways, I am starting over in Manila, and it’s both scary and exciting. With all my experiences, however, starting from scratch has never felt so right. My blog, Clean Slate, will be a documentation of this new chapter and I am excited to take you with me as I experience it.
Jonathan Beam
Photography by Filbert Kung. Grooming by Jim Ros. Special thanks to Melo Esguerra and Metro Society for the shoot. Also, many thanks to photographer Filbert Kung for these photos.

 

Clean Slate is a Food and Cooking Blog by Jonathan Beam. Featuring recipes, cooking tips, and restaurant recommendations.

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