Restaurateur Nick Badovinus didn't host a seminar Thursday so much as hold court on the matter of burgers in his man-cave office next to flagship Neighborhood Services. The event was part of his rousing contribution to The Dallas Morning News' Savor Dallas, which runs through Sunday.
Badovinus has two burgers on the Best in DFW Burgers list - one from Neighborhood Services, and one from Off-Site Kitchen.
Leaning against his billiard table, the chef compared burgers to cars like the silver '62 MG parked a few feet away: "Once you find a stock chassis, it's all about accessorization."
And what's the chassis in a burger? The meat and, to a lesser extent, the bun.
See a gallery of delicious photos in the slideshow below.
Seasoning the meat's next, and he keeps it simple: kosher salt and cracked black pepper in a 2:1 ratio by weight. "Volume gets you almost as close," the burger meister added.
Caramelized Texas yellow onions are a secret weapon, adding depth but never tasting onion-y. Roll finely diced onion into the surface of the meat and cook the patty on one side until the onions brown up.
"When we flip the patty, we put the cheese on top," he said. "We put the bun on there because one of the great joys of a burger is the fusion of cheese and bun."
His favorite cheeses? In order: American, cheddar, muenster and smoked gouda.
The bun is "super important," too, he said, noting he sources with Village Baking Co. in Dallas.
Then it's a matter of layering the bottom bun first with shredded lettuce, which could be dressed, then tomato slices, then stuff like pickles or chiles followed by the sizzling patty.
That's a broad overview, of course. The frenetic chef shared lots of micro-steps that go into his restaurants' burgers and keep customers coming back.
The night's wildest ride among the classic and daring combos: the PB&J burger, with a smear of creamy Jif, house-made tomato jam and house-made potato chips (for crunch). The snappy combination worked because the "accessories" never overpowered the chassis.
"There are certain times when only a burger will do," Badovinus said. "We talk a lot about the 'crave' factor."
By Kim Pierce, Special Contributor