There's no better way to kick off the upcoming long weekend than by throwing a backyard bash. This Fourth of July get your red, white, and blue decor up and your grill out. With no food more quintessentially American than the burger, we grilled five New York City chefs for details on what makes their restaurant versions so mouthwateringly popular with the masses. In addition to sharing their recipes, they revealed their most treasured summer memories, favorite food and drink pairings, and go-to cookout songs.
From beef and pork to turkey and vegan patties, these food aficionados infuse basic burger ingredients with a little epicurean flair and some complementary fix-ins to make one first-rate assembly that will wow guests at any cookout. If you're looking for something a little more special than just the standard Le Big Mac, take their lead and make room on your grill for some master class burgers you're about to learn to make in the gallery below. No one with functioning tastebuds will be able to turn them down.
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Inspiration: I love tacos, and Mexican chorizo is my favorite, so I sought out to make the ultimate taco burger! Favorite summer memory: Grilling cheeseburgers, with double American cheese, on July 4th, while drinking ice-cold beer. Favorite summer food and drink pairing: Burgers and beer Favorite cookout song: “Summertime” by DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince
The Spicy Mexican
Ingredients: 1 chorizo patty (seasoned with guajillo chiles, paprika, chile powder, cumin, oregano, onion, garlic, black pepper, nutmeg, and coriander) 2 pieces sliced Jack cheese 1 Martin’s potato roll ½ oz. chipotle mayo Lettuce, tomato, pickle as desired 1 oz. pico de gallo (recipe to follow)
For the pico de gallo: 3 cups tomato, diced 1 cup Spanish onion, diced 1 cup jalapeño peppers, diced ½ cup fresh cilantro, chopped 3 tablespoons lime juice 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil 3 tablespoons white vinegar 1 tablespoon kosher salt 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
For the pico de gallo, mix all ingredients together in a bowl. Season to taste with additional jalapeños, lime juice, and cilantro. Set aside.
Season the patty and cook to desired temperature. Add cheese.
Toast both sides of the bun on a griddle.
Dress the top bun with chipotle mayo.
Plate with lettuce, tomato, and pickle. Garnish burger with pico de gallo.
Inspiration: I wanted to do more of a double patty burger. I liked the idea of two burgers, a little more cheese, pickles, some lettuce, and a kick of the sweet-spicy sambal mayo. Favorite summer memory: We’d go to Long Island every summer when I was a kid, and we used to get whole belly clams a lot. I really like those. Mostly fried seafood is my favorite memory. Favorite summer food and drink pairing: Cold Other Half IPA beer and a burger Favorite cookout song: Anything by The Rolling Stones
Le Big Matt
Ingredients: 2 100-gram patties 2 slices white American cheese 3 bread and butter pickles 6 leaves of mizuna lettuce 1 Tom Cat pretzel bun salt to taste "Sammy” sauce (recipe to follow)
For the Sammy sauce: 1 oz. sambal sauce 1 oz. brown sugar 2 oz. mayonnaise
For the sauce, mix sambal and sugar thoroughly. Whisk in mayo, and set aside.
Salt the patties heavily and cook in a 700-degree oiled pan or plancha for 1 minute on each side. Add cheese and place under broiler until melted.
Top with pickles and lettuce and place in the pretzel bun with Sammy sauce slathered on to taste.
Inspiration: The Classic Burger by CHLOE. is our homage to a traditional burger, as it’s topped with lettuce, tomato, pickles, and our signature beet ketchup. The combination of tempeh, lentils, chia, and walnuts in our patty make for a great taste that even the biggest carnivores love. Favorite summer memory: Picking watermelons with my father in the south Texas heat. Favorite summer food and drink pairing: “Rosé Champagne and anything! My favorite is rosé Champagne and a slice of corn bread. Favorite cookout song: “Perfect day” by Lou Reed
The Classic Burger*
Ingredients: 1 8-oz. package tempeh or 1 cup cooked brown rice 1 tablespoon olive oil 1 onion, finely chopped 2 cloves garlic, minced 1 15-oz. can lentils, rinsed and drained 1 cup walnuts, toasted ½ cup all-purpose flour, or gluten-free all-purpose flour 1 teaspoon dried basil 1 teaspoon sea salt 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 3 tablespoon canola oil 8 potato buns Pickles, onion, tomato, beet ketchup as desired
Fill a large pot with enough water to reach the bottom of a steamer basket. Using a knife or your hands, break tempeh into 4 pieces and place in the basket. Cover and steam for 20 minutes. Check the pot occasionally and add more water if necessary. Steaming the tempeh will remove bitterness (if using brown rice simply skip this step). In the meantime, heat olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, and sauté onions until soft and lightly browned. Add garlic and cook a few more minutes. Transfer to a food processor. Reserve skillet for later use. Add steamed tempeh (or rice), lentils, walnuts, flour, basil, salt, and pepper to the onions in the food processor. Pulse until the walnut pieces are very fine, and the mixture comes together. If necessary, transfer the mixture to a large bowl and mix with your hands. Adjust seasoning to taste. Form the mixture into eight burger patties with the palms of your hands. Heat canola oil in the same nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, and pan-fry patties in batches, adding more oil as needed. Flip the patties, and let cook until they are nicely browned on both sides. Remove patties from pan and drain on paper towels.
Assemble on potato buns, and dress with pickles, onion, tomato, and beet ketchup as desired. *Adapted version of by CHLOE.’s “The Classic Burger,” courtesy of by CHLOE. and Chloe’s Kitchen (Simon & Schuster 2012)
Inspiration: I wanted to pack a bunch of my favorite burger toppings all onto one burger! Favorite summer memory: Sunsets as a kid while riding my motocross bike home after trail riding with friends. Favorite summer food and drink pairing: Grilled fish, summer vegetables, and sparkling rosé Favorite cookout song: “Summer of ‘69” by Bryan Adams
Ingredients: 20 oz. fresh ground beef, divided into 2 patties 2 1.5-oz. slabs smoked bacon 2 slices tomato 2 eggs 2 soft brioche buns Oil as needed Salt and pepper to taste Cheese sauce (recipe to follow)
For the cheese sauce: 1 teaspoon butter 1 teaspoon flour 3 oz. milk 1 oz. white cheddar 1 oz. yellow cheddar 1 oz. fontina Salt and pepper as needed
In a small saucepan over medium heat, add butter and flour and cook for 3 minutes. Pour in milk while whisking until the base is thick and smooth. Switch heat to low and whisk in all the cheeses. Season with salt and pepper to taste, then reserve for plating.
On a pre-heated hot grill, oil grill grates or spray with nonstick spray. Generously season burger with salt and pepper, then grill each side 3 to 4 minutes, depending on desired temperature.
Grill bacon over hot grill to achieve grill marks.
Lightly oil both sides of tomato and season with salt and pepper. Char tomato over a hot grill for approximately 45 seconds on each side.
To a nonstick pan, add oil. Add two eggs and cook to over easy.
To assemble, cut buns in half, then layer with the burger, smoked bacon, tomato, egg, and a full tablespoon of cheese sauce.
Inspiration: Sriracha, avocados, and pickled onions are pretty great on anything. They happen to be extra great on a turkey burger. Favorite summer memory: Falling in love with my wife, Almond, in Sag Harbor [New York] in the summer of ‘97. Favorite summer food and drink pairing: A spicy piece of grilled pork and a glass of Channing Daughters rosé Favorite cookout song: “Big Yellow Taxi” by Joni Mitchell
For the burger: 28 oz. ground turkey (if you have a relationship with a butcher, have him grind you some thighs) ½ yellow onion, finely minced 1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, chopped Salt and white pepper to taste
For the pickled onions: 1 red onion (peeled and cut into 1-inch rings) 1 teaspoon ground turmeric 1 teaspoon whole cloves 1 teaspoon mustard seeds 1 ½ cup sugar 1 ½ cup distilled vinegar For the sriracha mayo: ¼ cup sriracha ¼ cup mayo Juice of 1 lime
Prepare the pickled onions ahead of time. Put the onions in a heat-proof container deep enough for the liquid to cover the onions. Heat all the other ingredients until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is fragrant. Pour the liquid over the onions. Allow to cool and store in the refrigerator.
For the burger, in a bowl knead all ingredients together. Flatten into patties and grill on medium heat.
For the mayo, in a bowl whisk together all the ingredients. Brush your buns with the melted butter and quickly grill them. Get the burgers on the buns.
Either the build whole burger for your guests with the pickled onions, sriracha mayo, and avocado or serve everything on the side and allow your peeps to put it together themselves.