Burger Mania

In homage to Americans’ favorite sandwich, we asked Chef Jorel Pierce of the TAG Restaurant Group to grill us up some of the best versions. Photography by Paul Miller

Anatomy of a Burger

Anatomy of a burger
Photo by Paul Miller

The Bun
“The biggest mistake you can make with a burger is not griddling the bun. You have to griddle it; it can save a bad bun. You want to cook it so it’s warm all the way through, then wrap loosely in a plastic grocery bag to keep it warm.”

The Cheese
“If you are cooking on a stove or flat top, get the burger where you want it, put the cheese on top, put a splash of water in the pan, and put a dome over it,” says Pierce. “It will melt the cheese almost instantly. On the grill, I add the cheese when it’s on the final turn.”

The Patty
“I like to use a 3/8 or 3/16 grind on beef.”

The Onions
“Use red onions, not yellow, which are too spicy. We do little ringlets of onion because slices are too much.”

The Tomato
“Slice it a third of an inch; always salt and pepper the slices before putting them on the hamburger.”

The Lettuce
“You can use any kind of green that you’d want in a salad. I used butter lettuce here because it has a succulent texture.”

The Sauce
“Why a sauce? Because it adds what a burger doesn’t already have: a little bit of sweetness, more moisture, and a little bit of spice.”

Colorado condiments that will add zip to any burger

The Colorado cow apparently inspires a bull’s share of condiments. Eight local companies offered us their burger accompaniments, and there’s something for everyone but the mayo lover—the locals leave mayonnaise to the Krafts and Hellmans of the world. But we found a local condiment to mix with fridge mayo for the perfect aioli on a bacon-and-blue-cheese burger.

Burger condiments
Photo by Paul Miller

Sweetwater Draw Honey Dill San Juan Mountain Mustard from O’Hara’s Jams and Jellies in Durango

Caramelized Onions made and jarred by Yumyin in Denver

True Blonde Honey Mustard from Durango Artisan Foods

Original Recipe Ketchup (with no added sugar) from Elevation of Denver, which also makes Restaurant Style, Sriracha, and Vindaloo flavors

Colorado Green Tomato Piccalilli, a habañero relish from The Good Jar in Louisville

Caraway Garlic Dill Pickles from Denver’s The Real Dill

Jamberry Sriracha from Merf’s with a bit of our fridge mayo to make a pretty aioli with a kick

Pueblo Chili Relish Rojo (so colored because it is made from the Mosco chili pepper) by Scaff Bros. in La Junta