Welcome to The Hot Dish, a behind the scenes look at the making of the dishes of the moment.
[All photos by Nick Solares]
Michael Toscano's burger at Montmartre came about when the chef asked a simple question: How do you put a steak dinner between two pieces of bread? The beef needed to be dry aged, just like that from the finest steakhouses. So Toscano turned to butcher Pat LaFrieda, who came up with a rich blend of dry aged short rib and brisket. The creamed spinach, a classic side item at any steakhouse worth its salt, was a natural addition. Because of the richness of the ingredients and the need for some textural contrast, the chef decided to go with toasted pain au levain from Balthazar bakery, technically making the sandwich a patty melt. "I wanted heavy crunch" says Toscano, so he butters the bread before cooking it on the flat top and crisping it in the oven. But the proverbial glue that holds everything together, and adds the melt to the patty, is the chef's own creation: "Béarnaise cheese."
"Bearnaise is one of my favorite flavors," says the chef. "As a young cook I obsessed on making it perfectly." He recalls having to produce enough for 800 people: "I had to make 10 gallons at a time and it wasn't bullshit Béarnaise, there was no cutting corners, I was clarifying real butter, making a real reduction, all fresh." The chef explains his inspiration for the dish: "I wanted to do a burger and I wanted Béarnaise on it." So he came up with a way of incorporating the flavor of Béarnaise into the cheese itself.
Watch Toscano make Béarnaise cheese and assemble his patty melt: