"Tomato and mayo—they have a very sexy relationship," chef José Andrés tells us as he slices through a big, juicy tomato in our Soho Test Kitchen.
He's here to make the "burger" that's being served at Beefsteak, his new vegetable-focused restaurant in Washington, D.C. (Andrés is the chef/owner of 20 restaurants across the country, too, in cities like Miami, L.A. and Las Vegas; a second Beefsteak is slated to open in D.C. this summer).
But his is not a burger in the traditional sense—just one of the best tomato-and-mayo sandwiches you've ever tasted (see the recipe). And with tomatoes in their prime at the market, the time to make it is now.
"I didn't want to make a burger of fake meat," the ever-animated Andrés says. "Why would want to eat a piece of tofu that looks like a chicken breast? Food should be food!"
The Spain-born chef continues, "Growing up, I used to love the sandwiches my father made me: mayo, tomato, sandwich bread. When I came to America, I saw that people in the South liked it, too. See, Spain, America, we are not so different!"
Andrés's slightly more involved version uses, naturally, beefsteak tomatoes, peeled and cut into fat, ¾-inch rounds. He salts the thick slab before placing it atop a brioche bun that he's slathered in herb-caper mayo spiked with a little Dijon mustard. Then the tomato is anointed with salted sliced avocado, sprouts and a smattering of quick-pickled red onions.
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"I love onions," Andrés says. "When I have a meat burger, I like them panfried, but, here, I wanted them crispy and to have nice acidity."
Andrés describes taking the first bite in a way you owe it to yourself to watch (see the video above): "You bite into it, and the juices flow through the back of the mouth. You get the acidity, the sweetness, the tomato, the touch of mustard—oh, my god! At the end, you cannot wait for the second bite, and the third bite . . ."
And your next sandwich.