Huh… It seems in my last two posts and now this one I have unwittingly focussed on my most missed foods from the USA. It really wasn’t knowingly done. One day I had a hankering for burritos, another I wanted blueberry pancakes and then just last week I was dying for the best fast food burger in the world. And it just had to be had. So, due to this unplanned synergy, I’ve decided to retrospectively name these last few posts my ‘American favourites’ series.
In case you were in any doubt, the best fast food burger in the world is the ‘double double animal style’ from In-N-Out. When I was at college in Santa Barbara I had one at least once a week (and usually more often). And whenever I go back to LA it’s always my very first stop and my very last stop (possibly because there’s an In-N-Out right next to the airport, but whatevs).
In-N-Out is an institution in the west coast of America. Started in California in 1948, the focus of In-N-Out is on quality. Everything is made fresh from the highest quality produce. In fact, they only have restaurants in the western states because they insist that no location be more than one day’s drive from their distribution centre in California. While this is fantastic for those people who live within a day’s drive from their distribution centre, it pretty much sucks for the rest of the world.
The beauty of In-N-Out is simplicity. They only have five things on the menu: cheeseburger, hamburger, double-double (two patties, two slices of cheese), fries and shakes. However, if you’re in the know then there are a few more options available on the down-low. To get the skippy on the extra items take a look at this great Badmouth review. The best option, in my opinion, is the ‘double double animal style’. Two mustard cooked patties (I know this sounds odd, but see the recipe below), two slices of cheese, grilled onions, extra gherkins, extra sauce. It’s insanely good. But insane-making that I can’t get my little hands on one.
Not one to be denied anything I really really want, I decided to try to recreate these beauties myself. After searching the interweb, I found this very detailed and precise recipe by the brilliant Kenji at Serious Eats. Although I’m sure it makes the most accurate version that is possible at home, it seemed a little too much like hard work to me, so I decided on the lazier looser interpretation. I’m not going to lie, it wasn’t as good as the real thing, but it’s far far better than your average homeburger. It needs nothing fancy and you can make it on any normal evening (well I did anyway).
F&G double double animal style
To make 2 burgers
- 4 beef patties
- 4 slices of American cheese
- 2 large white buns
- 2 onions, finely diced
- sliced gherkins
- 1 tomato
- iceberg lettuce
- american mustard
- tomato ketchup.
It’s all about preparation. The burgers are the absolute last thing you do, so you want to get your onions cooked, your secret sauce made, and your buns toasted and layered up with all the relevant accompaniments. Then when the burgers are ready, you’re good to fry.
First things first, get your onions done. You want them caramalised to within an inch of their life. Over a low flame, fry the onions in a little oil, as slowly as possible, adding a splash of water if they look like they are drying out or burning. You should end up with something resembling the below. Once you’re happy with them, put them aside for later.
Next make your special sauce by mixing a little over 2 generous tablespoons of mayonnaise with 1 tablespoon of tommy k. Then throw in a tablespoon of finely chopped gherkins (or gherkin relish if you have it), a splash of vinegar (I used sherry vinegar as it was to hand) and a pinch of sugar.
Then toast your buns. You’ll need big buns and you want them well toasted under the grill. (In-N-Out toast their buns like this, so it’s an important part of the double double animal style. Don’t argue).
Now you can layer up your burger accompaniments. First a spread of that special sauce.
Then your gherkins.
Then tomato slices.
Then a single piece of iceberg lettuce.
Perfect. You’re now ready for the all-important double double animal style. I don’t have a pan big enough to fit 4 burgers in it at one time, so I made the two double doubles separately. Get your normal burger patties and flatten them with a meat tenderiser until they are about 1cm thick. Season each patty with salt and pepper. Heat a little oil in a frying pan over a medium heat and pop in the patties. Leave to sizzle for a minute or so.
Now for the mustard cooked part. Squirt some American mustard over the top of each patty…
…and spread around.
Once the burgers are almost cooked through (after a couple more minutes), flip the burgers.
The mustard will go everywhere, but it’s being fried into the meat. Genius. Let them cook for another minute or so, then place the slices of American cheese on top of each patty.
Spread the fried onions over 1 burger.
Then just as the cheese is melting, put one burger on top of the other…
…and move it over to the prepared burger bun.
Hey presto… your double double animal style. Serve with fries and a shake. The bestest fast food burger outside California.