Food ‘n Flix: Part Two—Chef Grant’s Best Burgers

To highlight this month’s Food ‘n Flix film, Spinning Plates (hosted by Culinary Adventures with Camilla), I decided to do three recipes.

There’s literally no way to keep up with the food in the film from all the chopping to mixing to flipping to whisking.  My last post featured a simple guacamole for La Cocina de Gabby and the Martinez family in Tuscon.  That was the appetizer portion for my Spinning Plates meal.  Today is the main course, Chef Grant Achatz’ “Ultimate Burger.”

Grant Achatz is the genius chef behind Alinea in Chicago.  He is a true artist.  Achatz sees his plates (and tables) as a canvas.  His restaurant is a gastro-molecular wonderland of sight and taste and twenty-five course meals.  (It is a far cry from the humble La Cocina de Gabby.)

According to Archatz, dining should be like “setting through a great performance.”  It’s quite the show at Alinea.

As his partner, Nick Kokonas, asks:  “Why do we go to a restaurant? To be entertained.  To be elevated.  To be life-changing.”  Indeed this is the case at their establishment.

Archatz’ food featured in the film was breathtaking and ambitious and too scary for me to try to replicate.  Instead, I found some humbler and more attainable recipes online like his mac ‘n cheese and this great burger recipe. 


Charcuterie Burger with Sauce Gribiche and Apple

Grant Achatz


For the Sauce Gribiche:

  • 3 T. finely chopped hard-boiled egg whites
  • 3 T. mayonnaise
  • 1 1/2 T. Dijon mustard
  • 1 T. finely chopped cornichon pickles
  • 1 T. finely chopped nonpareil capers
  • 1 T. finely chopped white onion
  • 1 t. finely chopped parsley
  • 1 t. finely chopped tarragon
  • Pinch kosher salt

For the Burgers:

  • Canola oil
  • 8 slices hickory-smoked bacon, sliced crosswise into 1/4″-thick lengths
  • 1/4 c. finely diced shallots
  • 1 T. caraway seeds, ground in a spice grinder
  • 1 lb. ground beef (80% lean)
  • 2 medium Granny Smith apples, cored and sliced 1/2″ thick
  • 1/2 t. unsalted butter
  • 1/2 c. grated Gruyere cheese
  • 1 1/2 t. (plus a pinch) kosher salt
  • Ground black pepper
  • 1 sprig thyme
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed with the flat side of a chef’s knife
  • 4 hamburger buns, split and toasted (I used pretzel buns.)


  1. Combine the gribiche ingredients in a medium bowl and refrigerate.
  2. In a large pan, heat 1/2 teaspoon of oil on medium. Add the bacon and saute until partially cooked, about 3 minutes. Add the shallots and caraway seeds and cook until the shallots are translucent, about 3 more minutes. Set aside in a small bowl.
  3. Using your fingers, gently break apart the beef into another bowl. Place the bowl of beef, the bacon mixture, and a fork in the freezer for 10 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, heat 1 teaspoon of oil in a skillet over very high heat until it begins to smoke. Immediately add the apple slices and cook until well browned, about 4 minutes. Flip them and cook until browned on the other side, another 2 minutes or so. Add butter and cook until the apples are very soft, about 2 minutes more. Remove them from the pan.
  5. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Remove all the items from the freezer. Add the bacon mixture to the beef along with the Gruyere, 1 1/2 teaspoons of kosher salt, and a few grinds of black pepper. Using the cold fork, gently mix the ingredients together. Form the meat into four 3/4-inch-thick patties.
  6. Heat a teaspoon of oil in a large ovenproof saute pan on high until the oil begins to smoke. Add the burger patties, thyme, and garlic. Cook, without moving the meat, until the bottoms of the burgers caramelize and develop a crust, about 2 1/2 minutes. Using a thin metal spatula, flip the patties and cook for 1 minute more. Transfer the pan to the oven and cook for 2 to 3 more minutes to finish the burger. Remove the burgers from the pan and set on paper towels to drain excess fat.
  7. Place the burger patties on the bottom half of each bun. Spread a generous helping of sauce gribiche on each burger. Top with a few pieces of roasted apple and then the bun tops, and serve. Makes 4 servings

Yield: 4

These are great burgers for a weeknight meal.   We enjoyed the combination of the creamy sauce gribiche with the slight crunch of the fried apple and the bacon-burger.  (And, I am so stealing the onion and caraway mix for future recipes.)

Achatz’ restaurant may be a Michelin three-star affair, but the family atmosphere and fellowship is still there.  Patrons ask to come to the kitchen because after the meal they feel a kinship with Achatz.  After eating his food, they know him.

Achatz faces his own personal battles in the film as he tries to defy death.  I just picked up his book,  Life, on the Line: A Chef’s Story of Chasing Greatness, Facing Death, and Redefining the Way We Eat.  I can’t wait to get into it.  

Someday, I would love to dine at Alinea.  Until then, we have this burger.

My next Food ‘n Flix post will highlight Breitbach’s Country Dining and dessert.

I’m also linking up with Souper Sundays at Kahakai Kitchen.  (Deb accepts salads and sandwiches along with soups!)  🙂

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