You love Pat LaFreida; we love Pat LaFrieda (and if you don't know Pat, his new show on the Food Network, Meat Men, will make a fine introduction). He supplies stellar meat to some of the best restaurants in New York City and all around the country, and a good percentage of our favorite New York burgers start with his custom blends. So when Pat offered to take us on a burger crawl of the city to learn how some of our favorite burgers get made, the only questions were, "How many?" and, "When do we get started?"
We decided to focus on four burgers that AHT considers exemplary of different burger cooking styles. All the burgers in this series come from meat ground in Pat's plant, and are the result of painstaking testing, tasting, and conversation to develop the just the right balance of texture, flavor, and burger magic.
First up: something of an underdog, the pan-seared, oven-finished burger at Lot 2 in South Slope, Brooklyn. It's an eight-ounce monster of alarming beefiness; honestly, if I could only have one thick-style cheffy burger for the rest of my life, it'd be this one. What makes it so good? It's all about the intense mineral beefiness of fresh short rib and sirloin, which tastes a bit like if a cow kicked you in the mouth. The thick patty doesn't have a single dry spot, and when cooked to a gorgeous, just-melting rare, is one of the juiciest burgers I've ever eaten. That said, this is nothing like grease bomb megaburgers elsewhere; it's actually remarkably clean tasting, and finishing one doesn't make you feel like you swallowed a bus.
"The flavor is so clean when you use whole cuts of meat," Pat explained. And that's ultimately what makes the Lot 2 burger so great: It's built from the ground up to be an outstanding burger, not just a vehicle for trimmed surface fat and steak leftovers. It reflects the general ethos of Lot 2, which bills itself as a Brooklyn neighborhood spot (down to the impressive homemade pickles and lively, carefully constructed cocktails): do everything simple and really right.
We talked with Lot 2 head chef Daniel Rojo as he made us one of the house burgers. Check out the slideshow for a step by step guide guide to how it's made.