It’s going to be a long wait until the final season of Better Call Saul rolls around. That doesn’t mean we can’t have a little fun with the show until then. On the TV side, Brian Grubb will certainly continue to speculate on what’s coming for this ill-fated crew, but real talk on the food tip — did anyone else get hungry when Kim Wexler described that room service burger from the swanky hotel?
I sure did. “Veils” of cheddar? “House-made” buns? High-end beef? Yes to all of that.
I knew it was my job to make Kim’s burger immediately. First, I went back and wrote down all the things Kim actually says. Right away, I could tell I was venturing into deep waters. There were also some big gaps in what Kim was describing, so I found the actual hotel in Albuquerque that Kim and Jimmy were staying at and dove into their menu. Sure enough, the Hotel Andaluz’s menu has a burger on it that’s pretty much exactly what Kim was describing, flowery language included.
With that information in hand, I went ahead and made the burger, the “house-made” bun, and the goddamn shoe-string fries. It was a lot of work, but very worth it.
SHOESTRING FRIES with TRUFFLE SALT
This is the moment Kim Wexler broke bad. Shoestring fries are the work of the devil. I’ve worked in kitchens and made a million orders of fries. I also know a lot of chefs and cooks. I can tell you with authority that only an asshole chef wants their staff to make shoe-string motherf*cking fries to order.
Making shoe-string fries at home sucks. It sucks so much, I don’t think I like Kim anymore.
- 4 Queen Anne Potatoes
- Dried Truffles
- Coarse Sea Salt
- Vegetable Oil
Peel the potatoes and put them in a bowl with water as you peel each one. Pour that water off once you’re done peeling. Using a mandolin with a small teeth plate, slice the potatoes along their horizontal line.
Return potatoes to bowl and cover with room temp tap water and add a punch of salt. Use your hands to work the potato “shoelaces” in the water to draw out the starch. It’s like a gentle massage. Let sit for at least 30 minutes.
Pour that water off and then start wringing all the water out of the potatoes in a cheesecloth. Basically, you’re going to need to do a fistful at a time and really wring the life out of the potatoes until no more water drips out.
Layer the potatoes on a baking sheet lined with a towel. Pat down, set aside.
Later, we’ll fry this is small batches in vegetable oil at 350F. You’ll need to add them very slowly to the oil as they cause the hot liquid to boil up dramatically. Use a slotted spatula to move them around until golden brown and crisp. This will takes eight to ten minutes.
Move to a bowl lined with a cloth. Remove cloth. Hit with several grinds of dried truffle and salt. Toss. Serve. You’ll see them pictured at the end.
This is where the menu from Hotel Andaluz came in handy. They list “house-made ketchup,” “hatch green chili BBQ,” and “mojo mustard” as the condiments for this mighty burger. I’m going to go over these pretty quickly.
- One can of Tomato Puree
- 1/4 cup of Dark Brown Sugar
- 1/8 cup Apple Cider Vinegar
- One tsp. Cumin
- One tsp. Allspice
- One tsp. Garlic Powder
- One tsp. Onion Powder
- One tsp. Smoked Paprika
- One tsp. Dried Truffles
- One tsp. Sea Salt
- Half tsp. White Pepper
Add all ingredients to a small saucepan. Stir. Bring to a bare simmer. Cover and simmer until reduced by about a quarter, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat to cool. Serve.
- 1/2 cup good quality Mustard
- Zest of one Lime
- Juice of 1/2 Lime
- Zest of 1/2 Orange
- Juice of 1/2 Orange
- Two Sprigs of fresh Oregano (minced)
- One clove of Garlic (minced)
- One tsp. Habanero Paste
- Pinch of Sea Salt
- Few Cranks from Black Pepper Mill
Add all ingredients to a bowl. Stir until completely incorporated. Cover and place in the fridge to rest.
- One Green Bell Pepper
- Two Cayenne Peppers
- Two Pointed Peppers
- 1/2 Yellow Onion
- Two Cloves of Garlic
- One cup Chicken Broth
- Juice of 1/2 Lime
- Juice of 1/2 Orange
- Sea Salt
- Black Pepper
- Olive Oil
Heat a medium pan on a medium-high flame with a glug of olive oil. Add chopped onion, peppers, and garlic. Hit with salt and pepper. Cook until onions wilt. Add liquids. Reduce heat and simmer off the liquids until it looks like the image below. It should take around 30 minutes.
“HOUSE-BAKED SESAME SEED BUNS”
Kim, you’re killing me with this burger. I’ve never made hamburger buns. So I have to admit — I am curious. However, I have a busted oven. I have to eyeball the flame to set the temp and my broiler is shot. Still, I soldier on because I love this show and I want to have this recipe in my arsenal.
You’re going to need a scale for this recipe. Always bake by weight. There’s no better way. Cooking is art; baking is science.
- 7 grams Dry Yeast
- 450 grams Bread Flour
- 50 grams Raw Sugar
- 250 grams Whole Milk
- 50 grams Unsalted Butter
- 1 Medium Egg (beaten)
- 7 grams Fine Sea Salt
- Olive Oil
- 1 Medium Egg
- 1/4 cup Whole Milk
- Sesame Seeds
Start off by putting the milk and butter in a small saucepan on a low flame on the stove. Turn off as soon as the butter melts and let cool down to at least 130-100F. If it’s too hot when you add it to the yeast, it’ll kill it.
Add 50 grams of flour, the sugar, and yeast to a large mixing bowl and whisk together. Add in the milk and butter and stir until completely blended. Let sit for ten minutes so the yeast can activate.
Add the rest of the flour, egg, and salt. Mix using a wooden paddle until it comes together into a cohesive dough.
Flour a working surface and plop the dough down.
Knead the dough for at least five minutes. I go until the dough is completely smooth and no longer sticks at all to the surface of the counter.
Form into a ball. Brush olive oil around a receiving bowl. Place the dough ball into the bowl top side down and then flip it over so that the whole ball is coated in oil.
Cover in plastic wrap and set aside. As soon as the dough has doubled in size, it’s ready.
Line a baking sheet with baking paper. Preheat your oven to 375F (mine was closer to 400F, I think) with the rack in the middle.
Roll the dough onto a lightly floured surface. Gingerly roll the dough into a foot-long log. Cut in half. Cut those halves in half. Cut those quarters in half. You’re left with eight buns.
Turn each of those eighths into balls by folding the ends under until the top is smooth. Dust each one with flour. Place them on the baking sheet with plenty of room. Pat them down so that they’re about an inch tall.
Cover loosely in plastic wrap and let them proof until they’ve doubled in size. This will take anywhere from 20 to 40 minutes depending on how hot your kitchen is.
Mix the milk and egg in a bowl until well blended. Use a brush to gently brush the wash onto each of the buns. Then, sprinkle generously with white sesame seeds.
Place in the oven for 12 to 15 minutes. I set an alarm for six minutes to turn the baking sheet around. Otherwise, let them bake. Unfortunately, I don’t have a broiler, so the tops didn’t get a nice brown to them.
Remove from the oven and place them immediately on a wire cooling rack.
I had to taste test one. So I broke it open and ate it while it was piping hot with some butter. And, wow, I’m definitely doing this again. But not right now.
Hey guys, we’re finally going to make this burger!
The photo below is a pretty good example of how I felt while making this goddamn burger. It’s also one of the only chances I had to see the burger in the show.
It’s kind of dark and certainly not the focal point of the shot. So, let’s take a closer look.
We get another look here:
There’s not a whole lot to go on besides a thick, fancy-schmancy New York steakhouse style patty, cheese, and what looks like that “housemade ketchup” up top with a butter lettuce leaf below.
Here’s the burger from the real-life hotel for comparison. It’s what I’m aiming for in the end.
I make two 200-gram (seven ounces) Irish beef patties. It’s 80/20 lean/fat. I hit the burgers with salt and pepper. And, since this is a boutique hotel burger, I’m going sous vide with a reverse sear. So I vac-seal those patties with a sprig of fresh sage and rosemary.
I place the patties in a 132F water bath for two-hours. Now, it’s crucial that ground beef reaches 140F to be safe. I’m cooking them to 132F in the sous vide and then searing them off in a cast-iron skillet, which will allow the patties to hit the magic-mark of 140F. I assure this by using a meat thermometer.
I slice my home-made hamburger buns in half, butter them, and sprinkle ’em with garlic powder. I then toast them off in a ceramic pan because why not add more dishes to the pile at this point!
(This is also where I fry the shoe-string fries using a wok with one-liter of vegetable oil at 350F).
Next, I get the cast iron ripping hot with a good glug of olive oil. I fish the patties from the sous vide, remove them from their vac-sealed packages, pat them as dry as possible, and sear them off.
After they’re seared on one side, I flip them over. This is where I add a thick slice of white Irish Cheddar. I kill the heat and put a lid on the skillet, trapping in the steam. I let that sit for at least five minutes so the cheese can “veil” over the patty.
Construction goes like this:
- Bottom Bun
- Mojo Mustard
- Folded Lettuce Leaf
- Patty with Cheese
- Pepper Jam
- Housemade Ketchup on the Top Bun
Then, I grabbed a California Cab since they were 100 percent drinking red wine with their burgers and I’ve f*cking earned a bottle glass of wine at this point.
And there it is. I did it. Shoe-string fries are dumb but, I have to admit, I loved them here. They were light, crisp, full of umami, and salt. In fact, hitting fries with dried truffle flakes and sea salt is delightful — even in shoe-string form.
As for the burger, yeah, it’s goddamn delicious and messy and nap-inducing and I want it again. I just want someone else to make it for me next time. I have to say though, I’m only making my own ketchup from now on. And, home-made buns are actually worth the effort. The mojo mustard really made things sunny and sharp. The peppers were a great add on. Now, about that nap…