Imagine the Arc Burger – that luscious cow-duck-pig combo served at ARC, the everything-from-scratch eatery in Costa Mesa’s South Coast Collection (SoCo).
The beef is hand cut into itty bitty pieces. The pig is crisp cooked cubes of house-cured bacon. The fowl is rendered duck fat.
Watch the short video to see the action (and learn some secrets).
At Arc, everything that is cooked does so over a wood-fueled fire; the burger is no exception, vigilantly supervised by executive chef-/co-owner Noah Blom.
The patty’s exterior gets crisp and crunchy while duck fat sizzles around the edges of meat; it’s in a cast iron skillet nestled in hardwood embers. It contrasts delectably with the moist interior, the juices rich in flavor and aroma.
Skill and dedication team with innovation and style in Arc’s open kitchen. He joined me in my kitchen and outdoor kettle barbecue to show me step by step how he creates his burgers. The process wasn’t slap-dash quick, but the flavors and textures were worth the wait.
Yield: 2 burgers
1 pound boneless short rib, finely chopped by hand
1 pound rib-eye strap, finely chopped by hand (or use 2 pounds boneless short rib)
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 large yellow onion, caramelized, see cook’s notes
1/4 pound bacon lardons (3/8-inch cubes), cooked crisp
1/2 cup rendered duck fat (or melted butter or a high-end olive oil), divided use
Seasoning: salt, freshly ground black pepper, fresh-cut chives, chopped fresh chervil
2 potato buns
Garlic aioli, enough to thinly coat both cut-sides of buns, see cook’s notes
Handful of Red Oak lettuce , see cook’s notes
Shaved red onion
2 large heirloom tomatoes, contrasting colors such as 1 red and 1 orange preferred, cut into 3/8-inch slices, one slice of each per burger
Pickled red Fresno chilies, sliced crosswise, see cook’s notes
Optional: shredded white cheddar, aged 5 years preferred
Cook’s notes: Note that ingredients and instructions in parenthesis vary from the way burgers are prepared at ARC, but may be easier for home cooks. (To caramelize onion, slice a yellow onion crosswise into thin slices. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large deep skillet on medium-high heat. Add onions and toss to coat with oil. Cook until starting to soften and turn brown. Reduce heat to medium-low. Cook until nicely browned, stirring occasionally, 15 to 20 minutes. Use half of onion in this recipe; reserve remaining onion for another use. Cool and chop before adding to meat. At ARC, they prepare aioli in a mortar and pestle. To make it in a food processor, drop 2 peeled garlic cloves in feedtube with motor running. Stop motor once minced; add pinch of salt, 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard, 2 egg yolks, juice of 1/2 lemon – then whirl to combine. With motor running, add 3/4 cup room temperature canola oil in a very thin steam. Season to taste with salt and pepper.) To pickle chilies, cut 5 into crosswise slices. In a saucepan, add 1 1/2 cups rice vinegar, 2 tablespoons sugar, 1 tablespoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon dried red chili flakes, l teaspoon whole coriander seeds and 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns. Boil on high heat until sugar dissolves. Add chili slices and remove from heat. Cool; refrigerate 12 hours or up to 5 days. Chef Blom lightly dresses the lettuce before adding it to the burgers. He makes vinaigrette with minced shallots, minced garlic, sherry vinegar, canola oil, pepper and salt.
1. Hand chop cold beef and place in bowl (or have butcher do a coarse grind). Add garlic, caramelized onion, cooked bacon lardon; gently toss with fingertips. Add salt, pepper, chives and chervil; gently toss with fingertips. Add 1/3 of the duck fat, reserving remaining duck fat to use when cooking.
2. Form 2 large patties and refrigerate well-sealed, for 24 hours.
3. Heat briquettes in a charcoal grill. Top with chunks of wood. Let fire burn down until flames die down and surface is hot and more or less flat. Place a little duck fat in a cast iron skillet; place patties in skillet and ladle remaining duck fat over and around meat. Place skillet directly into the coals (no grate used). Cook until burgers are well crusted on bottom, about 10 minutes; pull out skillet using well insulated barbecue mitts and cautiously turn meat. Return skillet to coals and cook until burger reaches the desired degree of doneness. Remove skillet from heat. If you want to add cheese, add it to the top of the burger. Grill cut sides of buns until lightly browned.
4. Spread a thin layer of aioli on cut sides of buns. Add meat, shaved red onion, 2 lightly salted tomato slices, and a few slices of pickled chilies. Top with bun.
Source: Noah Blom, executive chef/co-owner ARC, Costa Mesa
Here’s a quick tip from Melissa’s
Tame rapini’s distinctive personality by teaming it with sweet, caramelized onions.
This dish is quick to prepare as well as luscious.
The recipe is from “50 Best Plants on the Planet”
Rapini with Caramelized Onions and Brown Rice
Yield: 6 servings
4 cups cooked brown rice blend or brown rice, see cook’s notes
1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 large yellow onion, halved top to bottom, cut into 3/8-inch thick slices
Optional: 1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 1/4 pounds rapini, cut into 2-inch pieces
2 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1/4 teaspoon dried red chili flakes
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
4 cups cooked brown rice blend
Optional garnish: 2 tablespoons minced Italian parsley
Cook’s notes: Cook 1 1/2 cups raw brown rice or brown rice blend; that should give you about 4 cups of cooked rice.
1. Cook rice according to package directions. Meanwhile heat the oil in a large deep skillet on medium-high heat. Add onions and toss to coat with oil. Cook until starting to soften and turn brown. Reduce heat to medium-low. If desired, add sugar; sugar helps onions to caramelize, but they will brown without it, it will just take a little longer. So leave out the sugar if you prefer. Cook until nicely browned, stirring occasionally, about 12 to 15 minutes, adding garlic 3 to 4 minutes before the completion of cooking.
2. Put a large pot of salted water on high heat. When boiling, add rapini. Cook until tender-crisp, about 3 minutes. Drain well, shaking colander to remove as much water as possible. Add to onions; add chili flakes and toss. Add salt and pepper. Divide rice between 6 bowls. Spoon mixture over rice, sprinkle parsley on top if desired and serve.
Nutritional information (per serving): calories 220; fat calories 40, total fat 4.5 grams; sat fat .5 gram, cholesterol 0 milligrams; sodium 35 milligrams; total carbohydrates 37 grams; fiber 3 grams; sugars 3 grams; protein 7 grams
Source: “50 Best Plants on the Planet” by Cathy Thomas (Chronicle, $29.95)