You know Marc Murphy from his regular appearances on Chopped and as a guest on Iron Chef. He’s also a champion of NYC-based food nonprofits Share Our Strength and City Harvest and works on the Diplomatic Culinary Partnership with the U.S. State Department. We know him as chef-owner of a handful of our favorite restaurants, including Ditch Plains, where you’ll find Murphy’s award-winning burger.
This was the burger we brought to Burger Bash at the South Beach Wine & Food Festival in 2009. My thinking was, “Let’s just make a good burger!” And lo and behold, we won the People’s Choice Award.
A burger is a burger, but what separates a passable burger from an exceptional one is the quality of the meat. If you can, get your butcher to grind the meat fresh for you — the difference is quite notable. You also want to balance out your flavors and textures. When you bite into a hot burger, it’s a nice contrast to taste the cool, tangy pickle against the char of the meat. And the cheddar and black pepper bun, my spin on brioche, is just a bit more exciting than your run-of-the-mill bun. While making your own hamburger buns might seem like a lot of work, once you taste one, you’ll know it’s definitely worth the trouble, and it will give you an edge on your competition.
- 2 garlic heads, halved crosswise
- olive oil
- kosher salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- 3/4 cup ketchup
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- 1 tablespoon vodka, plus more as needed
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
Cheddar and black pepper buns
- canola oil, for greasing the bowl and the dough
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1 packet (2 1/2 teaspoons) instant yeast
- 1 cup warm water
- 4 large eggs, at room temperature
- 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled, plus more for the pan
- 4 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
- 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 cup shredded cheddar
- 2 teaspoons freshly cracked black pepper
- melted butter, for brushing the buns
Big Marc burgers
- 2 1/2 pounds (80% lean) ground beef
- kosher salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons canola oil
- Bread and Butter pickles, for serving
For the roasted garlic
Preheat the oven to 250°F; position the rack in the middle of the oven.
Rub the garlic halves with oil and season them with salt and pepper. Wrap the garlic tightly in foil and roast in the oven for 20 minutes, or until soft.
Remove the garlic cloves from the papery skin and transfer to a bowl. Mix with a fork to form a paste. Set aside ½ tablespoon for the spiked ketchup and transfer the remainder to an airtight container. The roasted garlic will keep in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
For the spiked ketchup
In a medium bowl, whisk together the ketchup, mayonnaise, vodka, mustard, and reserved roasted garlic until combined. Cover and refrigerate. The ketchup will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 6 days.
For the cheddar and black pepper buns
Lightly oil a large bowl and set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, stir together the sugar, yeast, and warm water until the sugar is mostly dissolved. Let stand for 5 minutes. The mixture should get cloudy and foamy — if it doesn’t, start over.
Add 3 of the eggs and the butter and stir until incorporated. Add the flour and salt to the bowl. Attach the bowl to the mixer and fit the mixer with the dough hook attachment. Start mixing the dough on low speed. After 2 minutes, raise the mixer speed to medium and knead until the dough is sticky but workable, about 5 minutes. Raise the speed to high and knead until the dough starts to pull away from the sides of the bowl in one piece, 1 to 2 minutes. It will still be slightly sticky. Transfer the dough to the prepared bowl.
Lightly oil the top of the dough, cover the bowl with a kitchen towel, place it in a warm area, and let the dough rise until it has doubled in size, 1 to 1½ hours.
Turn the dough out onto a floured countertop and knead in the cheddar and pepper. Try not to overwork the dough — once the cheese is mixed in, you can stop kneading. Cut the dough into 6 equal portions. Butter two rimmed baking sheets. Shape the dough into balls and place them on the pans, flattening them slightly with your hand.
Cover the pans and let the buns rise in a warm area until they have doubled in size, 30 to 40 minutes.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350°F; position the racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven.
Beat the remaining egg in a small bowl and brush the tops of the buns with the egg. Bake the buns for about 30 minutes or until golden brown, rotating the pans once halfway through the cooking time. Let cool on a wire rack.
For the Big Marc burgers
Gently, without handling the meat too much, form the beef into 6 patties. Set aside.
Heat a grill or preheat a grill pan over high heat.
Right before grilling, season the patties with salt and pepper and brush them with the oil. Place the patties on the grill and cook for 2 minutes on each side for medium-rare. Remove the burgers from the heat and set aside.
For the assembly
Slice the buns in half crosswise and brush the cut sides with the melted butter. Place the buns, buttered side down, on the grill and toast until warm, about 1 minute.
Top each bun with pickles, a burger patty, and some spiked ketchup, finish with the top of the bun, and serve immediately.