In today’s edition of “2020 is the year no one gets to do anything fun“, we have another recipe to remind us where we’re not going. Back to Hawaii with this Loco Moco plate! This easy-to-make (even easier to eat) recipe is what Hawaiians refer to as “ono”. That just means, “it’s really delicious.” Beef patties on a bed of rice smothered in brown pan gravy and topped with an egg. Nothing is more comforting- or filling- than this.
What is Loco Moco?
Firstly, do not translate this from Spanish. It’s not appetizing in the least.
Loco Moco is yet another recipe that was created for a bunch of hungry folks. In this case, a group of teenage surfers in Hilo, HI. Proprietors of a surf shack seared a flavorful beef patty and tossed it on a bed of rice with some gravy. A fried egg joined the recipe fray a little while later. And, the legend of the Hawaiian lunch plate was born. The name came from one of the teenagers in the group who was studying Spanish. “Loco” meaning crazy and “moco” just because it rhymed. Had George Okimoto really been a good Spanish student, he would’ve thought a bit better about dubbing it “crazy snot”. But, we’ll forget about the faux paux and carry on enjoying the dish.
This recipe is fairly simple, albeit full of separate components. The burger patty is the star of the show with the gravy being it’s co-star. A fried egg is optional, but I feel it isn’t the same without it. Finally, a bed of rice is necessary to soak up the gravy and the runny yolk. Complete your meal with a generous scoop of Macaroni Salad and your Hawaiian lunch plate is complete.
What ingredients do I need to make Loco Moco?
Think of loco moco like a burger on steroids. First, there’s the ground beef (choose chuck or sirloin). It is mixed with breadcrumbs, an egg, and grated onion- these bind the burger. More seasonings are added to amplify the flavor: salt and pepper, fresh garlic, and soy sauce (shoyu).
Later, make a pan gravy from the rendered burger fat and flour. I’ll explain why my gravy isn’t conventional later on. The seared burgers are topped with the brown gravy and a fried egg. You also need a batch of rice to round out the recipe.
How do I season Loco Moco patties?
I believe in flavor. Because I believe in flavor, I always do my best to build up flavors in the components of my dishes.
Beginning with the beef patties, combine grated onion, crushed garlic, an egg, salt, pepper, and soy sauce. Not only does the grated onion flavor the meat, it keeps it moist during cooking. The egg is a binding agent that helps keep the patty in tact. Add these ingredients to a mixing bowl and whisk them together to create a loose paste.
Add the ground beef and bread crumbs to the seasoning paste and mix with your hands, just until combined.
Portion out the meat into 4 meatballs of equal size. These are humongous meatballs that you’ll set on a sheet pan. Before you sear the meat, you need to flatten them into patties which are about 1/2″-3/4″ thick. Just keep in mind that the thicker the are, the longer you’ll have to cook them.
At this point you can move right into searing the patties. However, I like to cover and leave the patties for a couple of hours (or overnight) to allow the seasoning to penetrate the meat. I wrap them well and keep them in the fridge. At this stage you can also freeze the meatballs for 6 months.
How long do I pan fry burger patties?
After the patties have marinated a little while, preheat your cast iron skillet over medium-high heat.
While the skillet is heating, flatten your meatballs into an oval shape. Press the patties into the skillet. I mean, smoosh those suckers on there so it makes good contact with that hot iron. That is the only way to get that nice sear on the exterior. Sear the meat for 3-4 minutes on the first side. A spatula should meet little to no resistance when you slide it under the patty. Searing basically cauterizes the meat, forms a crust, and, as a result, the meat “un-sticks” itself from the pan. Let the meat sear a minute or two longer if the spatula isn’t able to get under the meat easily.
Flip the patties and sear for an additional 3-4 minutes on the other side. Lift the meat out of the pan and set it onto a sheet pan. Put the sheet pan in a warm oven to keep the patties hot while you prepare the gravy.
How do I make Loco Moco gravy?
Now here’s where things get a little risqué. Loco moco comes with a cornstarch-based brown gravy. I know this because cornstarch-based sauces are translucent, they look like a glaze. Well, I’m just not a fan of those gravies, so I thicken my brown gravy with a roux. A gravy that’s thickened with a roux is opaque instead of jelly-like. To me, it also tastes richer.
Pour the fat out of the pan and into a heatsafe bowl. Wipe the charred bits of meat out of the pan, as these will cause your gravy to taste bitter. Return some of the fat to the pan and heat over medium. Sprinkle the flour over the fat and whisk until a paste forms. Cook the roux for 2-3 minutes on low heat until it begins bubbling and growing dark. The roux goes from tan (almost white) in color to a deep brown and will begin to smell nutty.
Gradually pour the beef stock into the roux, whisking constantly. Don’t dump all of the stock into the pan as that will cause lumps to form. Instead, add the beef stock in stages- about a cup at a time- whisking until the stock creates, first, a paste, then a pudding-like mixture, to, finally, a thickened sauce or gravy. Season the gravy with soy sauce and salt and pepper to taste.
Now it’s time to think about pulling everything together. Keep an eye on the gravy if you’re not yet ready to serve it yet. The surface will form a skin if left warming without being stirred. If a skin does form, simply stir the skin into the gravy or skim it from the top and discard it.
What do I top Loco Moco with?
A fried egg is the bow that ties this recipe together. Now, in my family, we’re all fans of runny, sunny side-up eggs. If you prefer an egg that’s less runny, fry it to your liking.
I simply grab a fresh pan, pour a glug of oil into it and heat it over medium-high heat. Crack an egg in there and let it fry until the edges are crisp and the white is opaque- about 3 minutes. Repeat this three more times if you’re frying one egg at a time.
How do I serve Loco Moco?
To wrap this up, spoon a bed of steamed white rice onto your plates. Nestle a beef patty on top of the rice and pour a generous amount of gravy over it. Slide your sunny side-up egg over the patty and dig in!
Don’t forget your scoop of macaroni salad!
How do I store leftovers?
If you even have them, leftovers can be stored in a food container and kept refrigerated for 3 days. Freezing is doable: just skip the egg-frying sesh and freeze the fried beef patties in the gravy. Thaw them under refrigeration and reheat until warmed through.
Well, I guess we should be used to dashed plans and staying home. It’s not any easier for me, but the alternative would be worse. Be sure to pin this recipe to your dinner board and share it with your friends and family.
Loco Moco (Hawaiian Beef Patty with Brown Gravy)
For the Beef Patties
- 1/4 cup (1/2 small) white onion grated
- 2 cloves garlic crushed
- 1 large egg
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt plus more to taste
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper plus more to taste
- 1 1/2 pounds ground chuck (or sirloin)
- 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
For the Pan Gravy
- 3 tablespoons fat (rendered from the burgers)
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 3 cups beef stock
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon salt or to taste
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper or to taste
- 4 cups white rice steamed
- 4 large eggs fried
Mix and Cook the Beef Patties
- In a large mixing bowl whisk together the grated onion, crushed garlic, an egg, salt, pepper, and soy sauce. Add the ground beef and bread crumbs to the seasoning paste and mix with your hands, just until combined.
- Divide and form the meat into 4 meatballs of equal size. Allow the meatballs to rest, covered in the refrigerator for 20 minutes to an hour.
- After the patties have marinated a little while, preheat your cast iron skillet over medium heat. Meanwhile, flatten the meatballs into an 1/2" thick oval shape.
- Press the patties into the hot skillet and sear the meat for 3-4 minutes on the first side. Flip the patties and sear for an additional 3-4 minutes on the other side. Remove the meat from the pan and set it onto a sheet pan. Transfer to a warm oven while you prepare the gravy.
Prepare the Brown Gravy
- Pour the fat from the frying pan, reserving it in a heatsafe bowl. Wipe out any charred bits as they will cause your gravy to taste bitter. Pour 3 tablespoons of fat back into the pan and sprinkle the flour over it. Whisk until a paste forms. Cook the roux for 2-3 minutes on low heat until it begins bubbling and growing dark and begins to smell nutty.
- Whisk the beef stock into the roux gradually to avoid lumps. Heat the gravy, whisking frequently, for 3-4 minutes or until the gravy thickens. Add the soy sauce, salt, and pepper, then give the gravy a taste and adjust the seasonings with more salt and pepper, if needed.
- Once thickened, reduce the heat to warm and fry your egg. Be sure to stir the gravy occasionally to prevent a skin from forming on its surface. If the gravy isn't thick enough to coat a spoon, mix a quick slurry of 1 tablespoon of cornstarch and 1 tablespoon of cold water and whisk it into the gravy. Bring it to a simmer, stirring, until thickened.
Fry the Eggs (Optional)
- Heat two tablespoons of oil in a skillet over medium-high heat.
- Crack an egg (or two) into the oil and fry until the edges are crisp and the white is opaque- about 3 minutes. Repeat until your eggs are fried.
- Spoon a bed of steamed white rice onto each plate. Place a beef patty on top of the rice and pour a generous amount of gravy over it. Top the patty with a sunny side-up egg and serve.
Freeze the fried (cooked) beef patties in the gravy for 6 months. Thaw them under refrigeration and reheat until warmed through.