Sunday, June 17, 2018

Almost-Famous In and Out Burgers {Animal Style}#ForAnthonyBourdain

A couple of years ago, I watched a quick video where Anthony Bourdain talked about his favorite restaurant in all of Los Angeles, In and Out Burger. The video stuck with me because I've been to Los Angeles, and I think of it as a food mecca with endless restaurants, all serving some of the most delicious food in the country. Then I watch Bourdain, who has been fortunate enough to try all kinds of food and cuisine, the world over, and he states that In and Out Burger is his favorite restaurant in all of Los Angeles. Kind of mind-blowing, right? 

Bourdain went on to say that every time he landed in Los Angeles he began and ended his trip at In and Out Burger. To paraphrase, Bourdain passionately extols the virtues of and an In and Out burger saying  "good bun selection, good quality meat, reasonably fresh greens and garnishes, no fancy cheese but a good cheese-like substance, and two thin patties that expose the maximum areas of meat surface to the tongue." 

When we dedicated this week to Anthony Bourdain over at I Heart Cooking Clubs I knew instantly what I wanted to make, a knock-off In and Out Burger, Animal Style. Years back Food Network published a knock-off recipe in their magazine that I thought would work well. Trouble was the recipe called for 60% lean beef and to be honest, I've never seen this in any market around. I decided to take a trip to the Bluegrass Stockyards, which is right down the street.

It may seem strange to some to visit a stockyard for meat, but it is actually a beautiful building where farmers buy and sell cattle. There is also a restaurant, gift shop, retail shop, and a meat shop, among other things. I found some well-marbled ground beef that was 73/27 and raised locally. I knew this was the best I could do.

 In the video, Bourdain talks about the burger saying something like "this is like a ballistic missile, a perfectly designed protein delivery system and I like mine animal style, and I'd tell you what this is but I'd have to kill you." A description only Bourdain could give.

It's been years since I've had an In and Out burger and I wasn't sure what animal style was so I looked it up. It appears that Animal Style means that your burger has mustard grilled beef patties, extra dressing, grilled onions, and extra pickles. Sounds like an awful lot of goodness, if you ask me!

These burgers take a lot of time to put together (making the caramelized onions takes 40 minutes alone), but if you have a hankering for a burger piled high with goodies, then this is your recipe! I'd love to be able to tell you that it's a good knock-off recipe, but truth be told, it's been way too long since I've had an In and Out burger to give proper feedback. I can say that the burger has a lot of five-star reviews on the Food Network site. We definitely enjoyed it, especially the caramelized onions, sauce, and mustard-fried patties. It was messy, it was over-the-top, and it was a somewhat obnoxious burger to eat.

In many ways, this burger reminds me of Anthony, full of goodness but oh so naughty. Many thanks to Anthony Bourdain for taking us along on his journey. His stories will definitely live on.

Almost-Famous In and Out Burgers, Animal Style
Adapted from Food Network
Serves 4, or more depending on size

2 tablespoons vegetable oil, plus more for brushing
2 large onions, finely chopped
1/4 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons ketchup
1 tablespoon sweet pickle relish
1/2 teaspoon white vinegar
2-pounds ground beef chuck (preferably 60 percent lean)*
4 hamburger buns, split
1/4 cup sliced dill pickles
3/4 cup shredded iceberg lettuce
 4 to 8 thin slices tomato
ground pepper
1/4 cup yellow mustard
8 slices American cheese

Note: These burgers are best if the patties are quite thin. We opted to serve ours as singles, not doubles. I would encourage anyone making this to make their sauce the night before so the flavors have time to meld. Also, the sauce is quite thin when first mixed and will thicken overnight. Be mindful of how much sauce you add to your burger or it will be too messy. One tablespoon per burger is a very good guideline. Also, it would be wise to make the onions ahead of time as well. This helps to speed things along when it is burger time. I was unable to source 60% lean beef so I used a local ground beef that was well marbled and 73/27.*

Heat the vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat.  Add the onions and 3/4 teaspoon salt, cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden and soft, about 30 minutes (if the onions brown too quickly, reduce the heat to low).  Uncover, increase the heat to medium-high and continue to cook, stirring often, until caramelized, about 8 more minutes.  Add 1/2 cup water to the skillet, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Simmer, stirring, until the water evaporates, about 2 more minutes; transfer to a bowl and set aside. (The onions can be made up to 3 days ahead; cover and refrigerate, then reheat before using.)

Mix the mayonnaise, ketchup, relish, and vinegar in a bowl; set aside. Shape the beef into 8 patties (making the patties thin).  Heat a griddle or skillet over medium heat; lightly brush with vegetable oil. Toast the buns on the griddle, split-side down. Spread each toasted bun bottom with about 1 tablespoon of the mayonnaise mixture, then top with a few pickles, some lettuce, 1 or 2 slices tomato and another dollop of the mayonnaise mixture; set aside, keeping the griddle hot.

Season both sides of the patties with salt and pepper. Working in batches if necessary, put the patties on the griddle and cook 3 minutes.  Spread about 1 heaping teaspoon mustard on the uncooked side of each patty, then flip and top each with 1 slice cheese; continue cooking for about 2 more minutes or longer, until the desired doneness. Top 4 of the patties with caramelized onions, then cover with the remaining patties, cheese-side up. Sandwich the double patties on the buns.  *Feel free to make single patties as well, which is what I did.

Theme: For A Friend {For Anthony Bourdain} IHCC

 This is the way I will remember Bourdain, down to earth, extolling the virtues of a good burger as opposed to all the fancy restaurants L.A. has to offer. Love his style!


  1. Well my son and Anthony must have been kindred spirits. My son's favorite place to eat is In and Out. Unfortunately, we have one right around the corner, we eat there a lot. My teenager is partial to double-doubles. I will have to show him the video. I think this is a great tribute.

  2. Who wouldn't want a good burger? You pick a good one in the style that's all Bourdain!

  3. Yet another reason to keep caramelized onions on hand! Love them on a burger.

  4. You burger looks so tempting--it makes me want to eat meat again. ;-) Bourdain would definitely approve.


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