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One of the signature items of the California-based burger chain In-n-Out Burger is the "Animal Style" burger from their secret menu, which features a mustard-fried burger patty. It has a slightly tangy flavor to it, with a crispy, almost caramelized surface but a juicy center, and is often quoted as the best fast-food burger available.

I know the basic idea behind the process: squirt some mustard on the grill before putting the burger down. But I haven't tried it, and I'm curious if anyone has, and what specifically works best. Is it better to put the mustard on the burger, or directly on the grill? What type of mustard to use, and how much? At what point in the cooking process: just once before adding the burger, or a second time before flipping?

I know this falls under the restaurant-mimicry category, though I think I did a decent job of following the rules; If not, feel free to edit, or leave a comment and I'll try to clarify.

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up vote 6 down vote accepted

Here is Kenji Alt's in-depth recreation of the double-double animal-style burger. The core of his technique is:

The process is simple: Sear the patty on one side, and squirt some mustard on it as it sizzles. Flip the patty over so that the mustard cooks into the second side.

The patties are covered with the cheese, then the caramelized onions are applied liberally to a single patty before topping it with the second, fusing all the elements together into a single cheesy, beefy, sweet, oniony, gooey, salty, oozy, crispy, meaty, savory, melty, delicious mess.

He uses basic yellow mustard, btw.

In response to the question from comments about how long to cook, here is what the recipe says:

Add burger patties and cook without moving until well browned and crusty on first side, about 2 1/2 minutes. While they are cooking, spread 1 tablespoon mustard on raw side of each patty with a spoon. Meanwhile, top each bottom bun with up half of spread, 4 slices pickles, 1 slice tomato, and lettuce. Flip patties with a thin spatula so mustard side is down and continue to cook for 1 minute

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Perfect, thanks! I'll be trying this right now. –  Jeremy Nikolai Jan 13 '13 at 3:40
    
on a griddle? is it meant to char a bit or keep the patty moist? –  Pat Sommer Jan 14 '13 at 17:31
    
Kenji just specifies "a skillet" although from reading his blog articles, I know he favors cast iron. See edit above for more details on the cooking. –  SAJ14SAJ Jan 14 '13 at 17:39
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