Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Burgers and Friendship Part 1

Back in June 2008, during my final week of living in New York, my friend Clint and I went for a burger at the Shake Shack. It was an enjoyable night sitting in the park having a chat, a beer and soaking up some of the evening sunshine.

To be honest I can’t even remember the burger that well now, aside from the fact that it was juicy and tender, and the fries very salty. However, it’s developed an almost mythical status between us for being the best burger EVER. Even if, in my case, I can’t actually remember what I’m comparing back to!

Clint’s experience has inspired the burger project, where he’s sought to create the perfect burger in homage to The Shack. Despite a bit of gentle nudging and some hints ranging from the subtle to not so subtle, I’ve never sampled one of Clint’s burgers.

Eighteen months ago, just before I moved out of squatting in Clint’s spare room, I discovered this recipe on the web for the Fake Shack burger. It looked pretty authentic to me, but to my knowledge Clint had never tried the recipe.

Clint’s been struggling with perfecting the right burger bun too. I knew that he wanted a brioche style bun, so when I recently saw this bun recipe my mind was made up. We were going to make some burgers on my visit to Brisbane last weekend. It was time that I ate one of Clint’s burgers, in case it never happened!

The hardest ingredient to source is the mince for the burger itself. The Fake Shack recipe calls for a mix of 50% sirloin, 25% chuck and 25% brisket. As I don’t have a mincer at home it involved finding a friendly butcher with all of the right cuts. Have you any idea how hard it is to find a butcher in Sydney that sells brisket? Or one that will mince a small quantity (i.e. 2kg or less) of meat? After much searching the butchers in Paddy’s Market did me proud.

Clint can get a bit anxious about the burger project, so I decided that the element of surprise was called for. I secretly emailed Penne asking her not to arrange anything for Saturday night and smuggled my mince onto the plane. Presenting the beef to Clint once we were up in Brisbane. Not a standard house warming gift!

Clint’s initial reaction was not what I was hoping for. I’m not sure he liked the surprise element. I could see the thoughts What are you doing to me? I’m not ready for this! flashing through his eyes. I thought I might be making the burgers on my own! The project looked in further jeopardy when we tried to buy some of the necessary ingredients. Does every supermarket in Brisbane close at 5pm? With increasing desperation we drove to three different branches of Coles and Woolworths,  finally ending up in the local minimart. We managed to grab most of the items we needed, but it was the case of hobsons choice rather than selecting the prime ingredients that we wanted.

My confidence was at a low ebb and I was beginning to think that my bright little idea was going to go horribly wrong. Does anyone have the number of a local takeaway??


  1. Haha smuggled meat on the plane? Don't worry I've done worse, can't disclose here though =D Can't wait for part 2 ;)

  2. The effort you put into that burger, and the effort we put into finding those damn tomatoes, pickles and all came together.

  3. Now THAT was the best home cooked burger EVER.

  4. This last comment was Penne by the way...

  5. I was about to post some "local knowledge" about a more flexibly-open supermarket in Brisbane but then I realised that the place I was thinking of was in Cairns...

    Looking forward to seeing the photos of the prep and the final result!!