The secret is the sauce.

By Bridget Hallinan
Updated March 12, 2020
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Sometimes, nothing will satisfy your cravings like a good burger. They’re savory, juicy, and easy to make, with endless ways to riff on toppings. On this week's episode of Ludo à la Maison, Chef Ludo Lefebvre decides to take a "French-y" route, with black pepper sauce, caramelized onions, and two cheese-laden patties all piled onto a brioche bun.

In addition to sharing his recipe for said Burger Au Poivre, Lefebvre also provides some guidance along the way, from why you need to grind your meat day-of (more on that in a minute) to demonstrating how to toast buns in a skillet. Once the burger is done, he pairs it with an accompanying cocktail made with Ciroc (which is sponsoring his show)—a refreshing foil to the indulgent burger.

Read on for his step-by-step guide to making the meal, and get the burger recipe on his website.

Prep the onions

The recipe calls for a yellow onion, but feel free to substitute in red if you’d prefer. Cut it into thick slices, making sure to separate the layers. And if you cry, don’t feel bad—Lefebvre says he’s been cooking for years and it still happens to him. (Case in point: he tears up during the video.)

Caramelize them

Next, heat one quarter cup of grapeseed oil in a medium pot—Lefebvre opts for cooking on induction here, since it’s faster—and add in the onions, giving them a stir. Then, turn the heat to medium, cover the pot, and let the onions cook for five minutes.

Make the burger patties …

The recipe calls for 50 percent skirt steak and 50 percent short ribs—the latter has a little fat, Lefebvre says, so it makes a good mix.

… And make sure to grind the meat day-of

If you do it a few days in advance, the patties won’t be as juicy. Once the meat is combined, put on plastic gloves and form it into balls.

Check the onions

After the onions have had a little time to cook, check in on them and deglaze as needed. Lefebvre adds a little water, sprinkles in some salt, and then turns down the heat to low, covering the pot, so they can cook slowly.

Toast the buns

Add a pat of clarified butter to a skillet and toast your burger buns cut-side down. Lefebvre moves them around in the pan “like a DJ” to get a nice crisp.

Cook the burgers

Remove the toasted buns and add the patties to the skillet. You’ll want to flatten them with a burger press—don’t worry if they don’t come out perfectly round—and season them with salt and black pepper. Cook them on the first side until they’re browned, and then flip to the other side until they’re cooked to your desired level of doneness. Don’t forget to add a slice of cheddar cheese on top of each, too.

Make the sauce

Deglaze the skillet and add in clarified butter and shallots, caramelizing them. (Just make sure they don’t burn.) Then, add the brandy and flambé, before adding the heavy cream, more butter, salt, black pepper—be generous, this flavors the sauce—and brined green peppercorns. Let the sauce reduce and thicken.

Assemble the burger … 

Start by placing the bottom bun on a plate, then layer on the onions, one patty with cheese, the next patty with cheese, more onions, and finally, a generous pour of sauce. Close it with the other half of the bun and dig in—Lefebvre prefers using a knife and fork, which is probably for the best considering how saucy the burger is.

… And prepare your cocktail

Lefebvre combines lemon juice, syrup, sweet vermouth, amaro, and Ciroc, mixing it in a shaker. Add fresh mint as the finishing touch.