Nathan Myrhvold thinks he can make a better burger than Daniel Boulud. In a symposium commemorating the 10th anniversary of the foie gras-filled db burger, the author of $600 tome Modernist Cuisine said his scientific experimentation has led him to a recipe for the perfect burger. He poaches ground beef patties sous vide for half an hour, then plunges them in -321 °F liquid nitrogen for 30 seconds, freezing the very outer layer. Finally, he deep-fries the burgers, ensuring a crispy shell without a gray interior.
This isn't the first time chefs have tried to use liquid nitrogen—largely associated with avant-gardists like Ferran Adria and Heston Blumenthal—to perfect fast food staples. Technophiles have been making liquid nitrogen ice cream for decades. And Top Chef All-Stars-winner Richard Blais recently demonstrated his liquid nitrogen-based technique for Cap'n Crunch milkshakes on Kitchen Daily. But unless you, too, made millions at Microsoft, don't get too excited about trying it yourself. Though liquid nitrogen itself is dirt cheap, you need an insulated Dewar flask to contain it safely. The smallest Dewar on kryogenifex.com alone costs $460. Add in the price of a sous vide machine and enough beef for liquid nitrogen practice, and you'll be spending as much as you would on scores of $32 burgers at DB Bistro Moderne.