Backyard Burger

Phillip Craig Thomason

VINTAGE Kitchen, Norfolk, VA

One of our 2017 Blended Burger Project winners, this patty is blended with confit mushrooms and served with a cabernet franc molasses, cheddar cracklings, and a charred scallion mayonnaise.


Confit Mushroom Patties:

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon smoked salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pimentón
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons chipotle adobo purée
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sambal oelek
  • 10 ounces oyster mushrooms, stalks trimmed
  • 2 sticks plus 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into chunks
  • 1 1/2 pounds ground beef

Bacon Rust:

  • 1/2 pound bacon (about 8 slices)

Cabernet Franc Molasses:

  • 1/2 cup cabernet franc
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon molasses
  • 1 cup veal stock
  • 1 sprig thyme
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Pain Perdu Custard:

  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup corn kernels
  • 1 sprig thyme
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
  • Salt, pepper, and nutmeg to taste
  • 2 egg yolks

Cheddar Cracklings:

  • 2 cups finely grated sharp cheddar

Coffee Salt:

  • 1 tablespoon coffee beans
  • 2 tablespoons sea salt

Charred Scallion Mayonnaise:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/4 bunch (about 3) scallions (or ramps), finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon sour cream
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons maple syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon chipotle purée
  • 1/4 teaspoon pimentón
  • 1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • Salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste

Mornay Sauce:

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup cold heavy cream
  • 3/4 cup whole milk
  • 1 small bay leaf
  • 1 small clove garlic, smashed
  • 1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 tablespoon crumbled blue cheese
  • 1/2 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese
  • Salt, pepper, and nutmeg to taste

The Backyard Burger:

  • Four pairs of two 3-ounce room temperature blended burger patties, smashed between parchment paper, lightly seasoned with salt and pepper
  • 4 challah burger buns
  • 1/2 cup pain perdu custard to dip top bun
  • 1/4 cup melted butter from mushrooms to dip bottom bun
  • 8 slices sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 cup charred scallion mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup mornay sauce
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon cabernet franc molasses
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon bacon rust
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon cheddar cracklings
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon crumbled potato chips
  • 4 leaves butter lettuce
  • 4 slices heirloom tomato
  • Coffee salt
  • Dill pickles, sliced lengthwise


Make the confit mushrooms: 24 hours in advance before looking to serve, mix together the brown sugar, smoked salt, and pimentón in a large bowl. Add the adobo purée and sambal oelek and stir to combine. Toss in the mushrooms and mix until they’re fully coated in the rub. Cover with plastic wrap and transfer to the refrigerator to cure overnight.

The next day, remove the mushrooms and any excess cure from the fridge. Preheat the oven to 300°F. While the oven is heating, melt the butter. Mix the melted butter with the mushrooms and transfer the mushrooms to a baking pan. Cover the pan with foil and braise in the oven for 3 hours until very soft. Transfer the mushrooms with a slotted spoon to a sheet pan lined with parchment and let cool. Strain the butter through a mesh sieve and reserve. Once the mushrooms have cooled, coarsely chop them until they match the texture of the ground beef. Mix the chopped mushrooms with the ground beef. Form into eight thin 3-ounce patties. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Make the bacon rust: Preheat the oven to 325°F. Lay the bacon strips on a metal rack fitted inside a sheet pan. Cook until very crispy, about 40 minutes. Pat off any excess fat with paper towels while warm. Let cool at room temperature, then break into smaller pieces, and grind in a spice grinder to a fine powder.

Make the cabernet franc molasses: in a small saucepot, add the wine, sugar, and molasses and cook until the wine has reduced, the sugars have dissolved, and the mixture is syrupy, about 20 minutes. Add the stock and thyme and continue reducing until the mixture coats a spoon thickly, about 40 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Make the pain perdu custard: wrap the garlic cloves in foil. Roast in a 325°F oven until soft and fragrant, about 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and open the foil to let the garlic cool. In a small saucepot, heat all of the ingredients, except the yolks, over medium-high heat until the mixture comes to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer gently for 10 minutes. Season with salt, pepper, and nutmeg to taste. Blend immediately with an immersion blender until smooth. Slowly pour the hot mixture into a large bowl with the egg yolks while constantly whisking. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve, and chill.

Make the cheddar cracklings: keep the oven at 325°F. Spread the grated cheddar in a thin layer on a sheet pan fitted with a silicon mat. Bake until the cheese is very crispy, about 15 minutes. Let cool at room temperature then break into small, coarse pieces by hand.

Make the coffee salt: finely grind the coffee beans with the sea salt in a coffee or spice grinder. Set aside.

Make the charred scallion mayonnaise: in a small sauté pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat until it’s nearly smoking. Add the scallions (or ramps) and cook without stirring until the scallions have charred on one side. Stir once and remove from the heat to cool. Add the remaining ingredients to a large bowl and whisk together until smooth. Add the charred scallions and mix again until combined.  

Make the mornay sauce: in a medium saucepot, melt the butter over medium-high heat and whisk constantly until just caramelized and brown spots are starting to form, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the flour, whisking constantly until lightly toasted with a nutty smell. Add the cold cream, whisking constantly until very smooth. Add the milk, bay leaf, garlic clove, and Worcestershire sauce, whisking constantly until the mixture comes to a rolling boil. Add the cheeses, whisking constantly. The sauce should be thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, similar to molten lava. Add water, if necessary, in small increments until desired consistency is achieved. Remove the bay leaf and garlic, and season to taste with salt, pepper, and nutmeg.

To assemble: dip the top half of the buns in the pain perdu custard and dip the bottom buns in the reserved melted butter. In a well-greased cast-iron pan, griddle both halves of the buns until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Remove the buns and cook the burger patties in the same skillet at high heat for 2 minutes to achieve a deep char on one side. When the first juices begin to bubble to the surface, immediately flip the burger and place the cheddar slices on top of each patty. Cook briefly until melted, about 1 minute.

Generously coat the buttered bottom bun with the charred scallion mayonnaise. Place the double stack patties on top, then layer the Mornay sauce, cabernet franc Molasses, bacon rust, cracklings, potato chips, lettuce, tomato, and a sprinkle of coffee salt on top. Finish with the pain perdu–coated top bun and spear with a dill pickle and skewer.


4 burgers