Coworker: “Can you go to California in two weeks? We need someone to do a field study for one of our clients and the regular team is booked.”
Lisa: “California? Absolutely.”
Coworker: “Don’t you need to check with your husband or something?”
Lisa: “No, no, I’m good. I can do it. No problem.”
Lisa’s stomach: ANIMAL-STYLE BURGERS!!!!!!!1!! WILL DO ANYTHING FOR IN-N-OUT ANIMAL-STYLE BURGERS!!!!!!!!!
A few In-N-Out burgers, a few pounds, and a few weeks later, we were back at home, wondering whether we could make these delicious beasts at home.
A few internet searches and we had our answer: of course we could make Animal-Style burgers at home. We’d just need to find a few special ingredients — and follow a few extra steps…
1. The special sauce
In-N-Out calls it “spread.” If you are a real purist, you can whip it up yourself (basically: mayo, ketchup, dill relish). Or you can give yourself a break and opt for some standard Thousand Island dressing. We went for the islands.
2. The pickles
Easy. Classic hamburger pickles.
3. The onions
They must be caramelized, no matter how long it takes. I paraphrase Christopher Kimball: good caramelized onions take at least 20 minutes; anything less is a sham. Wait until they’re done. They’re worth it.
4. The other veggies
5. The meat and the secret ingredient
I have no clue what In-N-Out uses, but our local store has five or six varieties of grass-fed, organic ground beef and they’re all absolutely delicious. I go with the fancy meat.
After forming the patties, throw the meat in the freezer for just a few minutes before cooking…I’m not sure why, but I think it’s to replicate the fast-food effect.
The mustard? That was a surprise. When cooking the meat, before flipping, lightly mustard the top of the patties. Then flip — the mustard caramelizes and adds extra flavor to the burger.
6. The cheese
American. I voted for orange, Paul voted for white.
7. The bun
Get ready. This is going to take some coordination.
1. Spread some spread on the bottom of a toasted bun.
2. Pile on the iceberg lettuce, tomato, and pickles.
3. Cheese the burger while it’s still in the pan. Then add a sprinkle of caramelized onions on top of the melted cheese. Carefully place this gooey monster on top of the veggies.
4. Sprinkle on more caramelized onions.
5. Add more spread on the top of the bun, more than you think you should.
6. Paul: “I have no idea how I’m going to eat this, but I can’t wait to try.” (He went for the double-double. See above, x2 meat and cheese.)
Making Animal-Style burgers is hard! Firstly, it takes forever. Secondly, there are many little things to perfect. Our burgers tried to hockey-puck even though we started with flat, thin patties. Next time: flatter and thinner. And the thousand island dressing wasn’t quite right. Don’t be stingy with the spread — In-N-Out adds a lot.
Also, when finished, you’re going to ask yourself: “What’s to stop us from making another one right now?”