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The Downlow Burger

Michael Fiorelli's The Downlow Burger. TODAY, December 22nd 2016.
Michael Fiorelli's The Downlow Burger. TODAY, December 22nd 2016.Nathan Congleton
Cook Time:
2 hrs 30 mins
Prep Time:
30 mins

Chef notes

I love this recipe for my 'Downlow' burger because most of the preparation can be done ahead of time. Plus, nothing beats a perfect burger with a cold beer when watching a football game. This version is an elevated take on an In-N-Out Double-Double — one of my favorites in Southern California.

Equipment required: Food processor

Technique Tip: Cook your burgers in a sauté pan or on a griddle so you don't lose the juices to the grill; it also ensures you get a nice even caramelization all over the patty.

Swap Option: Fennel sausage heroes with pepperonata, whipped ricotta, and salsa verde (recipe below)


The Downlow Burger
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 3 large Spanish onions, thinly sliced
  • Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper
  • pounds ground chuck
  • pounds ground short ribs
  • Tomato aioli (recipe below)
  • 24 dill pickle slices
  • 12 slices sharp white cheddar
  • Salt and pepper
  • 6 burger buns (brioche or potato)
Caramelized Onions
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 3 large Spanish onions, thinly sliced
  • Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper
Tomato Aioli
  • 2 garlic cloves made into a paste
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 cups aioli/mayonnaise
  • 1 cup bottled chili sauce
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


For the Downlow burger:

Note: Keep onions warm in a separate pot. While burgers are cooking, you can warm buns in a 400°F oven (or on a nearby grill if available).

Gently mix together the meat until evenly blended and form into 12 4-ounce patties about ½-inch thick.

Heat the largest sauté pan you have over medium high heat, bordering on the high side. Season patties liberally with salt and pepper on both sides. Keep onions warm in a small separate pot. Coat pan with two tablespoons of vegetable oil place as many patties as will fit in the pan with out crowding. Cook until deep and evenly browned, about 5 minutes.

When one side of the patties is deep and evenly browned, flip it over and begin to cook the other side. At this point you can add the cheese right on top of the patties, one slice per patty. Continue to cook the patty until the other side is brown and the cheese is just melted (approximately another 5 minutes). At this point, spread two teaspoons of caramelized onions on top of each cheese-covered patty and top each one with three pickle slices.

Proceed to place one patty on top of another so you have double burger stacks. Take the bottom and top of a warmed bun and spread two teaspoons tomato aioli on each part of the bun before assembling the finished burgers.

For the caramelized onions:

In a heavy-bottomed sauce pot on medium high heat, heat oil until just shimmering. Add the onions. The whole process will take about 2 hours. During the first 20 minutes, stir the onions every few minutes. Once the onions are soft, reduce the heat to medium-low and stir periodically. Every so often the bottom and sides of the pan will begin to brown. Use a wooden spatula to work that back into the onions. When the onions are done, they will be very soft, golden brown, and very sweet. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

For the tomato aioli: 

Place all ingredients in a food processor and process until smooth. This recipe makes 1 quart. You will have plenty extra to use for sandwich, salad dressing or more burgers!