The key to re-creating the Big Mac is obviously perfecting the sauce. Some say it’s simply Thousand Island, but the clever folks at McDonald’s deserve much more credit for this masterpiece we crave.
In order to re-create the sauce, I had to ensure that I had a supply that I could taste on its own- away from the other great flavors this burger stacks. So I requested “extra on the side.” The friendly woman behind the counter didn’t flinch. She quickly produced a sundae cup half-filled with the neon, salmon- colored sauce. When I took a big sniff, all I could smell was a chemicalesque aroma. Tasting, on the other hand, yielded that wonderful flavor. Several tastings and I was convinced. The secret ingredient? Mustard. Simple yellow mustard. Add that and a pinch of sugar to a Thousand Island-style sauce, and you’ll be surprised how closely it resembles the real deal.
Divide the beef in half. On a sheet of waxed paper, shape each half into a 4″ patty. Season both sides with salt. Transfer the waxed paper to a plate. Place, uncovered, in the freezer for 5 minutes.
Preheat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until drops of water sizzle when splashed on the pan. Place the patties in the pan. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes per side, or until no longer pink. Meanwhile, place the bun top and bottoms, cut-sides down, in the pan. Cook for about 1 minute, or until toasted. (If the pan is not large enough to hold the patties and the buns, first cook 1 patty with the bottom bun and then start assembling the sandwich while the others cook.) Just before the patties are cooked, place the cheese on 1 patty.
Place 1 bun bottom on a plate. Spread on 1 tablespoon sauce. Place the cheeseburger, cheese-side down, on the bun. Spread 1 teaspoon sauce on the second bun bottom and place, sauce-side down, on the cheeseburger. Top with the remaining 1 tablespoon sauce, the onion, lettuce, pickles, the remaining burger, and the bun top.
In a small bowl, combine the mayonnaise, relish, ketchup, sugar, and mustard. Stir to blend well. Cover and refrigerate for up to 1 month.
Stir in the onion just before serving.
Drive-Thru: It’s easy to throw together a Big Mac-like burger in minutes once you have the sauce made. So to save time, make a big batch of the sauce, omitting the onions (they are the only ingredient that will spoil quickly). Refrigerate the sauce in a plastic container for up to 1 month. When you’re ready to enjoy a burger, simply add the correct quantity of onion to the amount of sauce you’re using.
Even Better: Save time and calories by omitting the second bun bottom and simply making 1 patty instead of 2 with the 3 ounces of beef. This way, you’ll need only 11/2 tablespoons of sauce. You’ll be left with a more nutritionally balanced burger. Plus, you’ll still have room for some fries or a side salad, all the while still enjoying that great Big Mac flavor . . . in minutes.
The revised version will have 310 calories, 24 g protein, 31 g carbohydrates, 9 g fat,
1 g sat. fat, and 1 g fiber. You’ll save 250 calories, 21 g fat, and 9 g sat. fat over the original.
Reprinted from Fast Food Fix by Devin Alexander (c) 2006 by Devin Alexander. Permission granted by Rodale, Inc., Emmaus, PA 18098. Available wherever books are sold or directly from the publisher by calling (800) 848-4735. www.devinalexander.com
Photo Credit: Lisa Cohen