For the other week's installment of BurgerMonday, Opera Tavern chefs Ben Tish and Ben Mulock created a beautifully deluxe version (with added truffle) of OT's delicious Iberico Pork and Foie Gras burgers which I raved about back in May here on Burgerac. It was absolutely fucking spectacular...
As is the tradition at BurgerMonday events, there were three courses. To start we were served Gazpacho with spiced green tomato and manteca croutons. The whiteness of the croutons is actually whipped Iberico pork fat (there's a running theme). The soup itself was heavenly - although the more of it I ate, the more I thought the balance leaned a little heavily towards being slightly too acidic. A minor quibble. It was top drawer.
Ah, the main event hoved in to view looking like this. But before I focus on the burger, let me tell you that the fries were cooked in – wait for it – Iberico Pork fat! They were really, really good. OK, now let's consider the burger, a full size beast accessorised with truffle pecorino and aged jamon....
Just look at it. Wow... And it tasted DIVINE. Even as I tried hard not to audibly moan in gastronomic ecstacy whilst masticating on this hammy treat, I was in awe not just of the deep rich and brilliantly balanced flavours, but of the ingenuity of the thing. This really is a cleverly conceived burger, and without a doubt the most technically brilliant piece of cooking I've encountered in all my burger-scoffing jaunts.
Instead of the aged manchego that appears in the OT mini pork and foie gras burgers, this burger sported truffle pecorino, and lurking underneath the melted cheese, was a thin slice of aged jamon, which had practically melted into the burger patty. The patty's deliciousness is hard to define in mere words and I was keen to chat to the affable Ben Mulock who very kindly took the time to tell me about his approach to making it...
"I wanted to do more with the truffle flavour than just use our pecorino, so I thought about how to get it inside the burger," Mulock explains. "I had chopped and sliced some going through the first prototype but felt it didn't come through smoothly or evenly enough. Eventually I decided to make a truffle milkshake in a blender so I could get it through the mix evenly. This worked a treat - but I wanted more so I also shaved on the mandolin more truffle to fold through the burger mix to give more flavour and texture to the burger. It was still missing something though. Even though it was great I knew I had to change the mechanics further and it was only when I upped the foi gras quantity that I was finally happy with the patty."
But hang on, Mulock wasn't done yet with tweaking the burger just yet. "The next thing to undergo a rethink was the relish," he told me. "The burger had grown richer so I needed to make it slightly sharper to give balance. I used the same butterhead lettuce as normal and me and Ben Tish created a chopped truffle aioli to give it a last hurrah and extra double amazingness. Thicker, crispy lightly battered onion rings were called for to help give a contrasting texture. Getting the bun size right was also crucial as too big and the whole thing is stifled by bread, too small and it's too bloody messy. And the guindilla (pepper) on top through the skewer is just too playful not to do."
While the Opera Tavern's two Bens say that the OT deluxe burger won't appear on the OT's regular menu, I urge you to check out the mini pork and foie gras burgers on the menu. Check out my review of those lovely little mouthfuls of joy here.
I've said it before, I'll say it again – if you haven't been to a BurgerMonday event, you're missing out on the most exciting burger action in town. The bar seems to be raised higher at each event. I wonder who will be the next chef to step up to the hot plate and prepare a one-off burger of untold awesomeness?
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