The Key To The Burger From The Menu Is A Simple Onion Trick

After watching the trailer for the 2022 dark comedy "The Menu," you might not think it's the best source for cooking tips. The film is a parody of fine dining, its claims to artistry, and the ecosystem of socialites and wannabes vying for status by indulging in this world.

The Internet Movie Database synopsizes the film as "a young couple travels to a remote island to eat at an exclusive restaurant where the chef has prepared a lavish menu, with some shocking surprises." We'll try to keep the spoilers to a minimum, but terrible things start to happen, and they all seem to be done at the whims of the controlling chef Slowik played by Ralph Fiennes.

According to Film Fugitives, the majority of Slowik's menu (like the fine dining menus that inspired it) is a deconstruction of foods rather than a proper meal. Courses like the "Breadless Bread Plate," which consists of condiments served sans bread, seem to tell diners they will leave here feeling more creatively satisfied than carnally satisfied.

In fact, the only food in the film that actually seems worthwhile is a cheeseburger made by Slowik as a special request, per People. It results in what might be the most satisfying cheeseburger ever immortalized in film, and if you want to make your own at home, you'll need to keep a few things in mind.

Chef Slowik's burger

During the burger scene, Chef Slowik lovingly takes a carefully formed ball of ground beef and presses it into a steaming hot griddle. He adds a few grinds of pepper, and then delicately lays thin sliced white onion on top. Finally, he flips each patty and adds two slices of American cheese before stacking them on top of each other, and sandwiches them between a sesame seed bun.

So, besides the elements of movie magic at play here, and the moment of calm this scene creates in a most unsettling film, what makes this burger so enticing? To solve this mystery, People spoke with John Benhase who worked as a consulting chef on the film.

Benhase says that the key to this outstanding burger is the use of onions. Smashing the beef balls down into a thin and crisp patty causes the fat to render and the meat to crisp and caramelize. The onions then get to have their own moment when the patty flips. "When you flip, the shaved onions will get trapped under the patties and start to steam and cook in the beef fat," said Benhase.

Just make sure to scrape the griddle down well when you give these patties a flip to keep all the best of those crispy edges intact.

Similar burger methods

As inventive as many of the dishes in this film are, this one actually retreads familiar territory. Hamburgers are an American classic, and there is a seemingly endless way to prepare them.

Probably the best-known example of using a bed of onions to cook your burgers is White Castle's Signature sliders. America's Test Kitchen says that cooking thin patties with onions has been a part of their not-so-secret process for a long time. Ever since they set out to make quick, consistent burgers packed with flavor they've been using this technique. It gives their burgers a signature caramelized onion flavor without falling behind on orders.

Chef Slowik's technique is also reminiscent of a hamburger style known as the Oklahoma Onion Smash Burger, per All Things BBQ. The key to this burger seems to be working the onions into the meat itself when it's smashed down, but besides that, it's almost identical to Slowik's preparation — right down to the aggressive scraping of the griddle.

Needless to say, it's a tried and true method that the experienced (and fictional) chef seems to have perfected.