The beginning of the summer isn’t the only time to get creative with your burgers. I appreciate the home cooks who hold back a trick or two to keep the rest of grilling season interesting.
Here’s a secret weapon to upgrade midsummer burgers, courtesy of chef Chris Kronner: a cheese mayonnaise, which combines the rich creaminess of the condiment with the sharp kick of aged Cheddar.
The former chef of Bar Tartine in San Francisco, who now runs the kitchen at Henry’s in Berkeley, Calif., introduced the Kronnerburger to the world six years ago and won dedicated fans in the process. His over-the-top version includes an extra meaty, dry-aged beef patty; specially grilled onions; a housemade bun that’s the same diameter as the patty; and the crowning touch: warm, salt-roasted bone marrow.
But for me, the genius part is the cheese mayo. Kronner isn’t anti-cheese, but if you’re cooking high-quality beef, a slice of Cheddar can obscure the meat’s funky flavor and texture.
“For all the care that goes into a dry-aged patty, it is better highlighted by a sauce as opposed to melting cheese over it,” he says.
His sauce has the texture of a very thick mayo that melts slightly onto the warm bun and meat; its flavor is the platonic ideal of a sharp Cheddar, turned into a creamy, melt-in-your-mouth sauce.
In May, Kronner published “A Burger to Believe In,” with Paolo Lucchesi, food editor at the San Francisco Chronicle. The cookbook highlights every element that goes into building the Kronnerburger at home, plus hacks for less ambitious cooks.
Following is a recipe for the exceptional sauce, plus Kronner’s tips for making an exceptional burger.