Heck’s Cafe has made a name for itself with its burgers, each featuring a proprietary blend of grass-fed Ohio beef and fresh, locally sourced ingredients — some offered in unique combinations. The menu lists everything from a Market Burger smothered in shredded short rib, béarnaise sauce and rocket arugula to a Brieberry Burger, what corporate chef Tommy Hurt calls “a play on a classic baked brie” crowned in the iconic French cheese, bacon and a blueberry-ancho sauce.
But Hurt prefers a simpler construction when building a burger for himself. He details the must-haves required to create his version of the all-American favorite.
The bun. Hurt uses a freshly baked brioche, a roll that provides a buttery, slightly sweet foundation for a substantial beef patty and multiple toppings. “It’s not too dense, and it’s not too light,” he says.
The ground beef. Hurt looks for a blend of cuts yielding a fat content of 20 percent — ideally, short rib or ribeye mixed with tenderloin. “The fat, when you cook it, is what’s going to flavor the beef,” he explains. The ratio of 20 percent fat to 80 percent meat, he adds, ensures that a juicier, more flavorful patty will stand up to the heat on the grill.
The seasonings. Hurt seasons each side of the patty generously with salt and pepper before grilling. “You’ll lose some of that seasoning in the cooking process,” he explains. “Some will come off on the grill. Some will stick to the spatula when you flip it.” However, he warns against salting and peppering after cooking. “After is going to be overpowering.”
The cheese. “I do like a nice, sharp cheddar cheese,” he enthuses. “It gives that little punch, the saltiness, a richness to [the burger].” And the flavor shines through a tower of toppings without eclipsing any of them.
The lettuce. Iceberg is Hurt’s leaf of choice for its cool crunch. “It’s got that little bit of moisture in it,” he notes. “Iceberg tends to be a little thicker than a green
The tomato. The moisture and acid in a slice of fresh, homegrown beefsteak tomato — “the redder and the plumper, the better” — brings a refreshing juiciness to each bite of burger. “It separates the richness and the heartiness of the beef and cheese,” he says.
The condiments. Hurt tops off his burger with a swirl of ketchup and a smear of mayonnaise. The ketchup imparts a slightly sweet zing. “The mayo adds creaminess.”
35514 Detroit Road, Avon, 440-937-3200; 2927 Bridge Ave., Cleveland, 216-861-5464, heckscafe.com