How to make the H&F cheeseburger at home

This is not a drill

Photograph by Evan Mah

No Atlanta burger packs as much star power as the one Linton Hopkins debuted at Holeman and Finch Public House in 2008. Local and national publications fell over each other praising this double-stack, and I counted myself as one of its most ardent fans. For two years, I averaged two a month, back when the restaurant cooked only 24 a night and you had to arrive at 8 p.m. to reserve a patty that wouldn’t see a flattop for another two hours. Today, there’s no scarcity of H&F cheeseburgers, available in unlimited supply at the pub, Turner Field, and Ponce City Market.

Recently I told Hopkins that I thought I knew how he made his cheeseburger. Kindly, he offered a few pointers on my recipe. After a few trial runs, I landed on what I believe to be a near-identical reconstruction. Sourcing the right ingredients takes more time than the actual cooking part, so plan ahead. You’ll need a mandoline (which yields precise, near-translucent slivers of onion) and a flattop griddle (which gives you control over the temperature and offers enough room to cook multiple burgers at once). And ask the butcher to double-grind the brisket, if you can sit tight for 15 minutes. The wait is worth it, and you’ll never have to leave your house for a burger ever again.

Ingredients for 4 burgers
1 pack H&F hamburger buns, available at H&F Bakery
1 jar H&F bread and butter pickles, available at H&F Burger in Ponce City Market
1 pack Kraft American Singles
1 large red onion
1 pound grass-fed ground chuck (85/15 blend)
1 pound grass-fed double-ground brisket
Butter, melted
Kosher salt

Special Equipment
Black+Decker Griddle

Ask your butcher for 1 pound each of grass-fed ground chuck (85/15 blend) and grass-fed ground brisket. I went to Whole Foods, which made me buy 2 pounds of brisket since they had to grind it to order (ground chuck was ready in the meat case). Tell them you want the brisket passed through the grinder twice for a finer texture.

Each patty is a 50/50 blend of chuck and brisket. First divide each of the meats into 16 even-sized balls. Combine one ball from each to make eight larger balls. Gently press into thin patties. The diameter of each patty should be slightly wider than the hamburger bun.

Half an onion and shave into thin slivers using a mandoline. Set aside.

Heat griddle to 400ºF. Butter the inside of the buns thoroughly, from edge to edge, and toast on griddle until crisp. Set aside.

Season all of the patties with 1/2 teaspoon salt. Immediately place on hot griddle, salt-side down, and gently press with a spatula to set the shape and adhere the meat to the metal for maximum caramelization.

Cook until the juices start to push through the surface of the patty, about 2 minutes. Flip, then add a few slices of onion to half the patties. Top all patties with American cheese. Once cheese begins to melt and enrobe the patty, about 20 seconds, create your double stack, placing the cheese-only patties on top of those with onions. Transfer to toasted buns. Top with 3 butter pickles. Serve.