“Pairing a rich beef burger with pâte and a fig salad may sound like gilding the lily…”
So write the authors of America’s Test Kitchen’s latest book ‘Modern Bistro: Home Cooking Inspired by French Classics” (America’s Test Kitchen 2022). They could have been listening to Andrew’s reaction when I told him that would be our dinner. He was truly surprised by how much he liked this amazing pairing. The pâte is spread in a thick layer over the bun. Sandwiched between pâté and burger there’s an easy-to-make salad of figs, honey, balsamic, and shallot. It’s the perfect counterpoint to all that richness. The original recipe calls for Watercress for which we substituted spring greens. America’s Test Kitchen includes a recipe for Grind-Your-Own Sirloin Burger Blend but you’ll have to buy the book for that. We used 85 percent lean ground beef. And we used store-bought chicken liver pâté from Trader Joe’s. Those shortcuts made this a 30-minute dinner perfect for a weeknight. Before the recipe, a bit about the book.
“Modern Bistro” is at least America’s Test Kitchen’s 94th Cookbook…
That’s by my count alone! In operation since 1993, America’s Test Kitchen is a juggernaut of publications, websites, videos, and podcasts that all emanate from a 15,000-square-foot facility in Boston. More than 50 test cooks work there while 40,000 home cook volunteers put their recipes to the test in their home kitchens. “Modern Bistro” consists of 180 recipes centered on France’s rustic shrines to classic French comfort food, the Bistro. You’ll also find more modern dishes like Artichoke Soup at La Barigoule and Coq au Vin with white wine. This is a book that’s a perfect guide to French Bistro fare for beginners and old hands in the kitchen alike. And in true American Test Kitchen style, this is not just a recipe book: it’s chockablock full of instructions on the techniques necessary to bring these dishes to life. Here’s a link to buy the book: https://shop.americastestkitchen.com/modern-bistro.html Now the recipe and some other burgers to enjoy.
Bistro Burgers with Pâté and Fig Salad
A magical pairing turns an ordinary Hamburger into a Gourmet Event.
- 8 ounces of figs, stemmed and sliced thin
- 1 small shallot halved and sliced thin
- 2 tsp. balsamic vinegar
- 1 tsp. honey
- 1 ¾ lb 85 percent ground beef
- ½ tsp. table salt
- ¼ tsp. pepper
- 1 tsp. Vegetable oil
- 6 oz. Chicken or duck liver Pâté
- 4 Hamburger Buns (we used Brioche Buns) toasted if desired
- 2 ounces of watercress or salad greens
- Step 1 Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 300 degrees. Combine figs, shallot, vinegar, and honey in a bowl
- Step 2 set aside for serving.
- Step 3 Divide ground beef into 4 lightly packed balls, then gently flatten into ¾-inch-thick patties. Using your fingertips, press the center of each patty down until about ½ inch thick, creating a slight divot.
- Step 4 Sprinkle patties with salt and pepper. Heat oil in 12-inch skillet over high heat until just smoking. Using a spatula, transfer the patties to the skillet, divot side up, and cook until well-browned on the first side – 2 to 4 minutes. Gently flip patties and continue to cook until well-browned on the second side, 2 to 4 minutes. Transfer patties to a rimmed baking sheet, divot side down and bake until burgers register 120 to 125 degrees (for medium rare) or 130 to 135 degrees (for medium), 3 to 8 minutes. Transfer burgers to a platter and let them rest for 5 minutes.
- Step 5 Spread pâté evenly over bun tops. Serve burgers on buns topped with fig salad and watercress or greens.