Sunday, April 15, 2012

The Ultimate Burger

Well, okay, it's probably not the 'ultimate' burger, but it was certainly the acme of evolution in my recipe testing experience. Truth be told, I have had a lot of trouble getting the hamburger right...or perhaps to be more precise, I've had trouble getting the burger up to my exacting standards. Last night's burger was the fourth or fifth iteration of experiments that finally lead to something I was relatively happy with. Does it still need tinkering? Yes. However, the hard, foundational work is complete. Here's what I did:

First, what cut of meat to use? I have tried chuck, I've tried blade roast and I've tried combinations of both. In all cases, the grind I got had a texture I wasn't happy with. This time I used a steak. Yes, it's a bit decadent, but I used the cheapish end of a sirloin, so we're looking at six largish burgers for 11 bucks. Almost two bucks a burger, but then again, how much would you pay for a burger in a pub? Most definitely more than two dollars. Next I cut the steak up into grinder-friendly strips, tossed in a generous amount of salt and allowed to chill a bit in the fridge. Once chilled, I ran through the grinder using the same technique as my Turkey burger grind (see here).

Then I got the mince into a bowl and into the fridge to rest and chill a bit more, say about 20 minutes. Then I got it out and formed into patties very loosely. The meat is already salted which acts as both a binder and a flavour enhancer. I did not have to add anything beyond that. The patties were about quarter-pound sized and just barely held together. Then back into the fridge to firm up and bind. In the past, I wrapped my beef mince up in plastic wrap in a sausage shape, twisting the ends tightly so that meat was compressed, after which, I could slice off disk-shaped patties from the log. I felt this would help bind the meat without requiring a lot of handling. I've also seen others do this to pretty good effect. For whatever reason however, whenever I've done this I find the burger is tough. This time, I left the grind as loose as possible and very gently formed the patties. The salt and the cold were the only tools I used to create structural integrity. On this account I was successful. Next, it was time to cook. I oiled up my grill and got it really hot, then I very gently placed the chilled patties on to the hot, oiled grills and then left them alone. Also I did not close the lid. I want a crusty caramelized outside to my burger with a medium-well interior. If I close the BBQ lid, then they will just bake and steam and not actually char. Leave the patties until a slight nudge is all it takes to release from the grill (they will be stuck to the grill for the first two to three minutes or so - this is normal). Then rotate them by 90 degrees to get the cross-hash marks. Another two minutes or so then a flip. Carefully. these are delicate Faberge eggs.

Only another minute or so is required, although it really depends on your preference. My kids get their burgers cooked all the way through. Their burgers were just as juicy as mine, but I still like a good amount of blush inside my burger because that's how I roll. I got a bit of grated aged cheddar on mine just till it melted. Anyway, I served the burgers on little ciabata buns I picked up at the bakery and slathered mine in a homemade grilled scallion mayo with some homemade lightly pickled onions and chillies. Very delicious indeed.

1 comment:

  1. that looks delicious! must give this a go once summer bbq season is in full swing :)