Presented ceremoniously on a brioche bun, my Wagyu Beef Slider on Brioche with Jalapeño Pimento Cheese combines the best of hybrid Japanese beef with the down-home comfort of pimento cheese–a contrast of rich new flavors with more familiar tastes.
The first time I tasted Kobe beef was at the flagship Matsuhisa in Beverly Hills, CA, a Japanese eatery owned by Nobu Matsuhisa (yes, that Nobu). It was over fifteen years ago when Wagyu beef was all the rage on the West Coast but had not yet swept across the heartland. It was a revelation to me. Quickly seared rare on a sizzling hot plate and gently brushed with Chef Nobu’s spicy blend, it redefined how enlightening eating beef can be. While the ultra-marbled slab had a firm texture, my steak knife sliced effortlessly through the meat like a straight razor through a peach. And the first bite: It was bold beef flavor counterpunched with fresh grassy notes that sent my taste receptors on a journey to the meadows of the Hyōgo region of southern Japan; it melted on my tongue like butter.
Flash forward a bunch of years, and I now see Kobe beef listed on chalkboard menus everywhere. I bristle at some of the descriptions that mislead consumers into thinking their over-priced steak is the real thing; it’s not. If that 20-ounce bone-in ribeye were indeed Kobe beef, the diner would have to take out a second mortgage to pay for it. Much of what you see on the market is an impostor.
Now that I have the disclaimer on the table let’s talk about Wagyu (Japanese word for cow) beef and the hybrid breeds that are responsibly raised both here in America and even more notably in Australia. Recently I found a new product (at least it’s new to me) at my local Albertson’s grocery in Lafayette. It’s Tajima brand Kobe Ground Beef, and at less than $8 per pound, I figured it was worth a try; I’m glad I did. The beef is a cross-bred Wagyu from Australia and imported by a California company that markets it like Kobe. While I take issue with the misappropriation of the Kobe name, they do say “Wagyu Beef from Australia”—a more generic description of the product.
This beef contains 20% fat, and it has a rich mouthfeel with those same fresh, grassy notes I recall so long ago. While I readily admit that it is impossible to pin down the ingredients in ground meat (did the fat come from the actual cow or added suet?), I can tell you this beef is excellent.
To present this discovery in a recipe, I decided on a burger slider. A five-ounce portion of meat, sitting atop toasted, buttery brioche, is the perfect three-bite sampling of this beef experience. But as usual, I’ve amped up the flavors with a few adventurous additions to my ingredient list.
First, I’m adding in an umami flavor bomb to the beef mixture with a combination of finely chopped mushrooms softened with Worcestershire sauce. Next, I’m piling on intense flavor with a goat cheese spread punched with green onion flavor. And finally, for a touch of Southern sensibility, I’m bringing out the pimento cheese spiked with jalapeño. This Wagyu Beef Slider on Brioche with Jalapeño Pimento Cheese is a taste explosion.
- 2 pounds Wagyu ground beef
- 2 cup sliced button mushrooms, finely chopped
- 3 tablespoon Worcestershire
- ½ teaspoon white pepper
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- ½ cup soft goat cheese
- 1 tablespoon heavy cream
- 2 tablespoons finely diced green onion tops
- 6 slider buns, preferably brioche
- ½ cup melted butter
- 1 cup jalapeño pimento cheese
- 2 cups loosely packed baby arugula
- Remove the ground beef from the package, place in a large mixing bowl, and refrigerate.
- In a microwave-proof bowl, add the chopped mushrooms along with the Worcestershire, and sprinkle with white pepper. Microwave on high for 1 minute until the mushrooms have softened and soaked in most of the liquid. Remove and pour off the excess liquid. Squeeze the moisture from the mushrooms, add them to the ground meat, and mix thoroughly. Form the meat into six 5-ounce patties of 1-inch thickness and 3 ½-inch diameter. (Note: I use a small ramekin-type dish to portion them out uniformly.) Your 5-ounce burger patties will appear to have a larger diameter than your buns, but remember that the excess fat will render during cooking and shrink the patties. Mine shrank to about 2 ¾-inch in diameter. Sprinkle lightly with salt and black pepper, and refrigerate the patties until ready to cook.
- In a small mixing bowl, add the goat cheese, cream, and green onions. Mix until the goat cheese achieves a spreadable texture. Refrigerate until ready to use.
- Remove the brioche buns and slice in half using a bread knife. (Note: Brioche is ultra-soft; be careful not to indent the tops of the buns with your fingers during handling; presentation is everything.) Brush the inside of the bun halves lightly with melted butter. Into a large black-iron skillet over medium-low heat, add the buns, interior-side down. Cook just until the bread toasts to a light golden brown—just enough to crisp them for a platform to spread the sauces. Remove and keep warm.
- Into the same cast-iron skillet over medium-low heat, add the burger patties without any oil. Cook slowly in place without moving the meat around or pressing down with a spatula (and risk watching the flavor run out into the pan). Let them sear on one side to form a crust on the bottom and then turn to do the same on the other, about 10 minutes total. Remove the patties once they reach a medium-rare internal temperature of 130ºF, and pat on both sides with paper towels to remove grease. Let rest for 10 minutes; the carryover cooking will add another 5 degrees of doneness for a juicy, pink-in-the-middle burger.
- Spread the pimento cheese on the top bun and the goat cheese mixture on the bottom. Add the arugula to the bottom bun and place the burger patty on top. Place the top bun over the warm patty, and the pimento cheese will begin to melt. Serve immediately.
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