Ok, let’s get right to it. This isn’t going to be an exact recipe for the perfect burger. Why you ask? Well, that’s a good question. The answer is simple; there are endless possibilities and combinations of ingredients when making burgers. What I am going to do here is tell you what my best burger has been so far and offer some further suggestions for burger making.
MEAT: What kind of meat should you use for a burger? Hey, what kind of meat do you love? The sexiest result I’ve had so far has been a mix of equal parts medium lean beef, pork, and veal. If you are fussy over using lean meat then go for it…so long as you are not using just beef. A burger made with just lean meat can become dry and *YAAAAAAWN* boring real quick if you don’t cook it closer to rare. The combination of these three meats is fantastic. The veal gives it a nice twist and some great smack you in the mouth flavour while the pork will keep this burger obscenely juicy even if you cook it well done. Please don’t cook it well done. You will make me very sad.
So, let’s get to mixing up the meats here to starting forming the patties. How about we say you’ve got a total of 2 pounds of meat. This should yield between 6 to 8 burgers depending on how gigantic you like them. Throw all that meat in a mixing bowl. Now. Do it. Time to contemplate what we add to the meat for some kick ass flavours. This is what I meant about endless combinations. What do I like to put in my burgers? You are so kind to ask! I don’t always use the same things. I guess it depends on my mood and who I am serving that day but my go to burger that I love consists of :
- 2 lbs equal parts medium lean beef, pork, veal
- 1 tbsp worchestershire sauce (if you have a British friend you better learn how to say this otherwise you will hear them go on about it for years every time you take it out of the pantry)
- 1 tbsp white wine dijon mustard (Maille is a great brand)
- 1 finely minced French shallot. If no one around you carries these you can substitute half a small red onion
- A small handful of finely chopped chives
- A few dashes of your preferred hot sauce. How much you put depends on how much ZING you like in your burger. I use my own homemade scoth bonnet pepper hot sauce(recipe to follow one day soon…)
- Salt and Pepper
I know you are looking at that little list above and wondering “Hey Phatman where the hell are the breadcrumbs? Where is the egg? What are you stupid” Well that is really mean of you. No, I am not stupid. I have used those ingredients in the past and always found that something seemed kind of not right with the texture of the burgers. I saw Gordon Ramsay make burgers and he omits them. He seems to know what he’s doing in the kitchen so I gave it a shot and WHAMO! I got way better burgers instantly.
Next step is to mix all of that by hand so everything is spread out evenly throughout the meat. Now you can start to form the patties. Pretty simple really. Divide the meat into 6 or 8 equal sized balls and roll them in your hands and flatten them out into a patty form. Keep in mind when you grill these (there is no other option. Grill em) that they can puff up in the middle and look more like a ball than a burger. To avoid that simply make an indentation in the middle of the patty by pushing down with your thumb. Once you have your patties laid out on a plate you can drizzle a little olive oil over them.
Here comes the second best part of making burgers; the cooking. Preheat the BBQ to about 400 F. IF you don’t have a BBQ I feel very bad for you but you can also use a grill pan. If you have neither of those then damn get to a store and get one! Ok, BBQ is ready. Throw those burgers on there! There are two mistakes I see many many MANY people make with burgers. First, I see people squeeze down on the patty with their spatula. This accomplishes one thing and one thing only. It forces you to say goodbye to all of the wonderful, flavorful juices in the meat. Bye flavour! So, if you are guilty of this please stop. There really isn’t a practical reason to do this. Second, a ton of people will perpetually flip burgers while they cook them. This can have a few disastrous effects. It can dry out your burger and if your burger is not ready to be flipped yet it can make it fall apart. So, watch them cooking. As you see the bottom half getting brown get ready to flip and flip once only. If you want your burger cooked medium then I would say a good 3 to 4 minutes on each side should do it. Another good tip: if a burger is not ready to be flipped it will still stick to the grill. When it has cooked enough you can pretty easily slide your spatula right under it. Also, just before the burgers are done feel free to grill your buns on there too.
Now we’ve got some sexy burgers on the grilled/toasted buns and waiting for you to love them with garnishes. Much like what you put into the meat mixture, here the possibilities are almost infinite. I absolutely love Avocado on a burger. So I tend to go with a nice thick wedge or two of avocado, a thick slice of tomato, and some red onion. I don’t find avocado works well with mustard as a garnish so I usually go with mayo and some ketchup. But really, you can go with sooooo many things here. Grilled strawberries, grilled apples, sauteed mushroom or onions all are mind blowing on a burger. This is where you can be creative and go nuts! I omitted cheese in this instance since I find the avocado to be rich and creamy enough on here. Another great tip is to cut up some cheese (try blue here even if you are not a fan of it) and mix it right into the meat mixture instead of piling it on top of the grilled burger. This is especially helpful if you like to use lean meat.
And now, with a growling stomach, we come to the final and best step of all. Open mouth and jam burger into face. I served this burger to a friend recently and his exact words were,”Well smack my ass and call me Sally. That is a good burger!” So I did. Now he is Sally.