Bacon Mushroom & Swiss Burger with a Mornay Sauce

Bacon mushroom and swiss burger with a mornay sauce
Bacon mushroom and swiss burger with a mornay sauce

Have you ever fresh ground your meat to make burgers?  If not, buckle up partner because this is a game changer!  While everyone knows how to make yummy burgers, this takes the classic meal to whole ‘nother level.  Mixing and grinding your own meat not only opens up the burger playbook to infinite permutations of flavor, but it also leads to the most tender and juicy burgers you have ever had.  I play around with combinations of steak, ground beef, brisket, pork shoulder, bacon, pork belly, ground pork, lamb, venison and I have even used a little breakfast sausage with great results.  If you already own a KitchenAid mixer, you can get this meat grinder attachment from Amazon for $35 bucks and be on your way.

One of the biggest obstacles to a juicy burger is over compacted meat.  Even when I am mixing in Ninja Cow ground beef, I will run it through the grinder for good measure to make sure it is light and fluffy.  The key is to avoid man handling the patties when you are making them.

Fresh ground patties
Fresh ground patties with brisket, beef and bacon

I decided to make these burgers with Ninja Cow ground beef, brisket and a few slices of bacon.  I cooked them sous vide and they were the jam!

What you need

  • For the Burgers
    • 1 pound ground beef
    • 1 pound brisket (I recommend a cheap digital scale for $10 to $20 bucks on Amazon–it is necessary for cooking, baking or making pasta and it comes in handy for cutting up Dan’s brisket into 1 pound quantities for applications like this).
    • 3-4 bacon strips
    • salt & pepper
    • Swiss cheese
    • English muffins–this burger is a juicy mess and those golden toasted nooks and crannies are the perfect choice to hold up to the moisture without getting soggy.  It is also the perfect bun because it doesn’t try to steal the show.  Rather, it highlights the delicious burger you’re eating.
  • For the mushroom topping
    • 1/2 lb of mushrooms (8 oz)
    • 1 clove of minced garlic
    • 1 medium shallot minced
    • 1/2 cup chicken stock
    • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
    • 1 tbsp corn starch & water
    • salt & pepper
  • For the mornay sauce
    • 1 tbsp butter
    • 1 tbsp flour
    • 1 cup whole milk
    • 1/3 cup freshly grated Gruyère cheese
    • salt & pepper

What you do

For the Burgers:

  1. Grind the meat and make your patties. Remember not to compress the meat too much.  Just squeeze it just enough so the patties hold together.  Sprinkle each side with salt and pepper.  Note that you don’t need any seasoning mixed in these patties.  The meat is so delicious that it honestly doesn’t need it.  I make these into four 1/2 pound burgers, but to each his own.  You could definitely make 6 burgers out of this that would hit the spot.
  2. Sous Vide:  Seal in a zip lock bag using the immersion technique, which is where you submerge the zip lock slowly with one top corner unsealed.  Submerge until the air is forced out and then seal the last corner without any water intrusion into the bag.  All cook times are perfect anywhere from 45 minutes to 2.5 hours.  Rare–120. Medium rare–128.  Medium–133.  Medium well– 140.  Remove from the bag, pat dry and let rest for 5 minutes.  Sear quickly in a screaming hot pan with bacon fat, duck fat or oil of your choosing.
  3. Non sous vide–Sear both sides in a screaming hot pan with a little bacon fat, duck fat or oil of your choice and then bake at 350 for 10-20 minutes depending on how well you like your burgers.
  4. Meanwhile, throw your mushrooms in another skillet on medium/high and saute until they have released their moisture–about 5 minutes.  Add the minced garlic and shallots and sweat for 2-3 minutes.  Add chicken stock and reduce by half.  Add balsamic vinegar and reduce by half.  Slowly add your corn starch slurry to make the reduction more viscous.     Add salt and pepper to taste.

The Mornay Sauce:

Mornay is a derivative of one of the 5 mother sauces from which all French sauces come from–Bechamel.  99% of cooking sounds more intimidating than it actually is and this sauce is no exception.  It only takes a few minutes to make and it can only be ruined by inattention and too much heat for too long.  Bechamel starts with a roux, which is equal parts flour and butter.  A corn starch slurry is the lazy man’s roux, but they serve the same purpose–adding starch needed to thicken your sauce.

  1. Add the flour and butter to a sauce pan on medium/high and stir constantly until the raw flour smell has gone and it begins to smell toasty.  This takes about 2 minutes.  You now have a roux that you can use to thicken anything you’re cooking in any recipe.  Cook the roux until it is brown and you’re getting into the French brown mother sauce.  Cook the roux until it is almost blackened and you’re into Cajun territory for dishes like gumbo and jambalaya.
  2. While whisking constantly, slowly stir in the milk until the sauce is simmering, but not at a rolling boil.  This is the only risky part of making this sauce, so pay attention during this phase.  You will know if it breaks because the milk fats will separate and it will become a greasy mess.  Add a little salt and pepper to taste.  You now have a Bechamel sauce.  While this recipe doesn’t call for it, at this point you can also add a pinch of nutmeg and/or a sachet bag (banquet garni) with fresh herbs like bay leaves, thyme, and parsley sprigs.
  3. What makes this a mornay is the addition  of cheese.  For this recipe, I chose Gruyère because it complements the Swiss cheese beautifully.  Using a whisk, slowly stir your Gruyère cheese into the simmering bechamel sauce until melted.  Taste and add more salt/pepper if needed. Enjoy!

If you want to have some fun, here are a few more variations to the bechamel sauce:

  • Soubise:  Sweat 1 onion in a skillet without browning it.  Puree in a food processor and add to 1.5 cups of bechamel.
  • Cream sauce–add 1/2 cup of cream to 1.5 cups of bechamel.
  • Poblano–blacken, peal, mince and add to the bechamel.
  • Anything that suits your fancy and complements your meal

Psh–who said French cooking was difficult?  People in fancy restaurants.  Intimidating? Initially.  Difficult?  No.  Delicious?  Incredible.

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