Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

The Perfect Burger


Mussina
 Share

Recommended Posts

The 99 cent "heart attack" specials from <insert fast food chain here> and tasteless patties from the grocery stores are a thing of the past. The best "pre-made" burger patties I have found come from the Wal-Mart neighborhood market grocery store with the "Angus" brand on them. The meat is pretty good and the flavoring choices are pretty good (garlic, cheddar cheese, ...). The local "In-and-Out" burger is pretty good but, I wanted something more. Reading about various premium burger places, I began thinking about why I couldn't do a better burger at home. I have a great grill and convection oven with a good butcher option no too far away.

What ingredients should I try to find?

  • meat - wild game, lamb, beef, bison, or something else?
  • buns - what to look for in a bakery and a bun?
  • cheeses - where to start?
  • vegetable options - what works well?
  • sauces and spreads - hot brown mustard, salad dressings, other?

I have been reading various threads about over working patties to create imitation hockey pucks, putting a hole in the center to even out cooking and prevent swelling. What other tips and tricks should I be aware of? Do you have some good recipes or combinations to share?

THANKS in Advance!

Sid

Link to comment
Share on other sites

You have to remember that most game meat..venison etc and Bison adn Ostriche are very lean so you may be looking at adding additional fat.

If I look for any bun other than standard it would be an onion roll...in NJ these can be a large round sandwich roll or a small square.

tracey

The great thing about barbeque is that when you get hungry 3 hours later....you can lick your fingers

Maxine

Avoid cutting yourself while slicing vegetables by getting someone else to hold them while you chop away.

"It is the government's fault, they've eaten everything."

My Webpage

garden state motorcyle association

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I went to Whole Foods the other day and had the butcher grind me a pound each of Sirloin Flap meat and Chuck (sliced from the roast). He looked at me like I was crazy, but went ahead and did it anyway. When I got home, I mixed the two together with some dried parsley, onion flakes, garlic powder and a healthy dose of Ancho Chili powder (it doesn't make the burger hot, but seems to accentuate the beef flavour more).

I packed them lightly by hand into 1/2lb burgers and let them sit in the fridge until the grill was ready. Then I seared them over the hottest part of the coals, about 4-5mins per side and let them rest on the grill with indirect heat. This made wonderfully light and juicy medium burgers. I put them on onion rolls and just added a dab of blue cheese dressing on the top. They were delicious!

Edited by Shamanjoe (log)

"...which usually means underflavored, undersalted modern French cooking hidden under edible flowers and Mexican fruits."

- Jeffrey Steingarten, in reference to "California Cuisine".

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I've been toying with ideas for a burger constructed with the use of Activa.

Too much handling is anathema to a good burger. What if there was practically no handling?

Well... the burger would fall apart. Right?

Here's my thought:

Grind some meat VERY finely. Make a beef-sheet (essentially a giant noodle made of beef) with Activa. (Maybe add some egg white? Spices?)

Grind some more meat VERY coarsely. Handle it as little as possible. wrapping it in the beef-sheet so that it is a burger-shaped beef-within-beef dumpling.

My hope is that you could get a lovely smooth char on the burger's exterior while the interior would stay moist and juicy. Any thoughts as to whether this would work?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I had a burger breakthrough the other day, quite by accident. I have been making my own burgers for quite some time now, and agree that cheap but quality chuck with high fat marbling (typically a shoulder piece cut for pot roast) is the key. I like to grind it myself, as the inconsistency that my cheap food processor creates improves the final texture of the burger. Grass-fed beef tastes great but is leaner, so ask your butcher for some fat on the side, you can grind it in later. Pure chuck is the way to go, I believe, sirloin has always disassisfied me. It's nearly impossible to get hanger/skirt in Vancouver, I would love to try that sometime though.

I add raw egg, panko, salt, pepper, and worchestershire to the ground beef, and then form into patties 2 inches thick at a minimum - it should be burnt on the outside and basically raw in the middle! Favourite toppings: caramelized onions, gorgonzola, homemade BBQ sauce and a little mayo.

Anyway, All of this is pretty standard. My breakthrough occurred when I made five (huge) patties for dinner, and ended up only having two guests. The two leftover patties sat in the fridge for two days until I cooked them up, air-drying for one and being moved into tupperware for the second. Maybe two-day-old patties aren't 100% FoodSafe, but the difference in flavour was huge. Allowing the ground beef to mingle with the salt and pepper, I presume, massively improved the flavour of the cooked burger.

Next time I whip up some burgers, I will do so two days in advance. I also will probably air-dry the burgers in the fridge for ~6 hours before cooking them, as the reduced moisture on the exterior improves the Maillard-ness significantly - a common step when grilling steaks, but often omitted for burgers, strangely. TBH these little tweaks have done more for my burgers than anything else.

Edited by Nicholas Ellan (log)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I know I'm going to expose my amateur, home-cooking skills, but here goes -

5-6 ounces of 85% lean beef, cooked for 4 minutes on a fully heated Foreman grill, the lid gently placed on top of the beef.

Seasoned on both sides with a gentle sprinkling of Goya Adobo con Pimienta, and on 1 side with Goya Sazon con Culantro y Achiote (it comes in packets; I put it into a salt shaker to dispense).

Optional post-cooking condiments - fried onions and sliced cheese of choice.

Opinions welcome.

Theresa :biggrin:

"Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power."

- Abraham Lincoln

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Next time I whip up some burgers, I will do so two days in advance.  I also will probably air-dry the burgers in the fridge for ~6 hours before cooking them, as the reduced moisture on the exterior improves the Maillard-ness significantly - a common step when grilling steaks, but often omitted for burgers, strangely.  TBH these little tweaks have done more for my burgers than anything else.

This hasn't been my experience, though I don't add anything but salt and pepper to the 1:1 chuck:sirloin gound beef. My experience is that the burgers dry out and become less juicy. Maybe something in your mixture (the egg?) is keeping that from happening.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I add raw egg, panko, salt, pepper, and worchestershire to the ground beef. . .

To me, once you start adding all those extras to the beef, it ceases to be a burger and become a hamburger steak (aka salisbury steak). It doesn't matter if it's eaten in a bun or shaped like a hamburger, it's a different beast.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The mechanics of the cooking method must have an influence on people's preferences.

If you cook with the burger fully supported on a hot, more-or-less flat, surface, you need much less mechanical strength in the patty than if you cook with the patty supported on bars or a grid, to expose it over flames or charcoal - and where any crumbliness could be disastrous!

Apart from the binding strength requirements, different cooking methods are going to give different fat loss by rendering and drainage, and a different char.

Hence, I think that the recipe (notably the cuts of meat, fat content, binding with or without added binders, amount of mixing and so on) cannot be discussed in isolation from the way the thing is going to be cooked.

Two ideas that I like:

- using Marmite instead of salt (I suppose Vegemite could substitute)

- when mixing for a sausage-like bind (if you need to hold it together well), using a splash of Guinness as the added liquid.

Both give extra savour and a not-too-overt enhancement.

Does anyone else occasionally sandwich two half-thickness patties together around a coin of herb (or garlic) butter?

And what about cooking (thicker?) hamburgers in the oven?

"If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch ... you must first invent the universe." - Carl Sagan

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I definitely appreciate the need for purity in a hamburger, and this is partly why I now avoid heavy spicing, garlic or onion powder, etc, a staple of most hamburger recipes found in cookbooks. Any additives should enhance the natural beef flavour, rather than obscure it - hence typically salt and pepper, and maybe an umami ingredient (Worchestershire, soy, miso, pure MSG in the 1950s, Marmite is a neat suggestion). I think dougal brings some clarity to this issue. I cook large patties on a grill, and a small amount of binder is absolutely essential for preventing the collapse of some portion of the patties. If I am making sliders in a pan indoors, they can and will be omitted.

Typically I aim for as much heat as possible on a grill, with a minimum amount of starch and egg to provide cohesion (eg. 1/6cup breadcrumbs and 1 egg for 4 pounds of meat). I forgot to mention that I also add a splash of neutral oil, as in the linked recipe, when I am grinding the meat in my food processor, largely for the benefit of the food processor.

Does anyone else occasionally sandwich two half-thickness patties together around a coin of herb (or garlic) butter?

I have indeed; I have also done the same with blue cheese (excellent result!) and foie gras (also good, but perhaps a tad expensive, it's probably better to cook your foie separately and use as a topping).

If we are going to go down the road of beef-alternatives, has anyone had good success with lamb burgers? Lamb shoulder is very close to chuck in consistency, fat content, and depth of flavour - and has the benefit of being equally cheap. I am tempted to try grinding it up myself, maybe with the addition of anchovy, and cooking it to medium-rare. I have never encountered a memorable lamb burger in a restaurant, though.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Ok, here's what I swear by... Fairly fatty ground chuck, with just two added ingredients: melted bacon fat and Lawry's seasoned salt.

For about 1.5 pounds of meat, I'd say I add around 1.5 Tbs of bacon fat and around 2 tsp of seasoned salt.

The extra smoky fat and the bit of garlicky hint from the seasoned salt is just perfection to me...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Apparently (i.e. I haven't had chance to try this yet) a tablespoon of duck fat in the mix really helps keep the burgers moist. This sounds really nice for a barbeque.

I personally love a bit of old bay (or celery salt at a push) in a burger and a few finely ground breadcrumbs to soak up some of the juices that might get lost.

p.s. venison burgers and ostrich burgers are amazing but I get them from the farmers market rather than making them myself.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

If we are going to go down the road of beef-alternatives, has anyone had good success with lamb burgers?  Lamb shoulder is very close to chuck in consistency, fat content, and depth of flavour - and has the benefit of being equally cheap.  I am tempted to try grinding it up myself, maybe with the addition of anchovy, and cooking it to medium-rare.  I have never encountered a memorable lamb burger in a restaurant, though.

I had my first lamb burger at the rather quirky A1 Diner in Gardiner, ME. The meat was mixed with a bit of fresh cilantro, and it was stuffed with Boursin. It was truly to die for. I've tried to duplicate it many times with varying success. My version is still a work in progress, but good enough that I make it often.

Jim

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I recently picked up a grinder attachment for the Kitchenaid, so I thought I'd try my hand at grinding my own meat for burgers. First attempt was with a 3:1 ratio of ground to flank. It looked (and smelled) beautiful.

gallery_35269_6655_37820.jpg

I seasoned with just salt and pepper and grilled over a very hot hardwood charcoal fire.

gallery_35269_6655_9584.jpg

One of the best tasting burgers I've made, but not the perfect burger. Not yet. For one thing, they need to be bigger for more bun coverage. (And I need to take better photos, bah.)

Edited by MichaelJ (log)
  • Like 1

Michael

Our Local Table

Link to comment
Share on other sites

When it comes to pre-made, I am in agreement with Sid about the Angus brand. They taste like beef, not like cardboard, and brown beautifully.

But for anyone in SE PA, there is also the boxes of burgers at Redner's Markets. They're sold in different percentages. We always buy the 90%, because we cook to medium. Not much shrinkage, and at that doneness, not much chance of dryness. They also have good flavor to them.

Theresa :biggrin:

"Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power."

- Abraham Lincoln

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Apparently (i.e. I haven't had chance to try this yet) a tablespoon of duck fat in the mix really helps keep the burgers moist. This sounds really nice for a barbeque.

Hi, Julianne! I've tried it and it works really well on the grill! Or, at least, people oooh and ah. ;-P Have fun. :) (Note: Too much extra fat can make the burgers crumbly; you'll find the amount you like.)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 1 year later...

I want to grill up some burgers this weekend, but I'm tired of having burgers like hockey pucks. I don't have the equipment to grind my own, which would be preferable, but I'm going to use a mix of pork and beef. What I want to do is grill relatively thin patties - like, around 5-10 cm in thickness. Is this feasible on a grill, or should I just use a skillet?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

If we are going to go down the road of beef-alternatives, has anyone had good success with lamb burgers? Lamb shoulder is very close to chuck in consistency, fat content, and depth of flavour - and has the benefit of being equally cheap. I am tempted to try grinding it up myself, maybe with the addition of anchovy, and cooking it to medium-rare. I have never encountered a memorable lamb burger in a restaurant, though.

I get lamb burger from my local butcher. He uses shoulder, and after grinding mixes in cubes of feta, rosemary, and salt & pepper. Amazing is all I can say. I love lamb, and this burger is the perfect expression of lamb without all the fuss and muss of cooking lamb on a weekday. I am not a burger traditionalist, and will put just about anything on a burger. My favorite beef combo is of course blue cheese and bacon, but also think that it would overpower the lamb.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I want to grill up some burgers this weekend, but I'm tired of having burgers like hockey pucks. I don't have the equipment to grind my own, which would be preferable, but I'm going to use a mix of pork and beef. What I want to do is grill relatively thin patties - like, around 5-10 cm in thickness. Is this feasible on a grill, or should I just use a skillet?

5-10 cm is huge, not thin. I've never even seen a "gourmet" burger patty that thick.

If you mean 5-10mm (or 1/2-1cm), then it's still do-able on the grill, you just have to be careful about flipping them. If you flip them too soon, they'll fall apart (in my experience).

Link to comment
Share on other sites

my kitchen aid attachment for my mixer came in yesterday so i tested it out right away. man that thing is fun. i grinded up some filet and skirt steak. this burger is more on the lean side, but its the first thing that popped into my head so thats what i wanted to try. i added some garlic, some bbq spices and a smokey spice. im gonna have them tonight and im excited. i also got the kitchen aid ice cream maker and had fun with that as well.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 5 years later...

For dinner last night I used my KitchenAid attachment to grind chuck for a burger.  But the result was dry.  In the pan the burger fell apart and I ended up thoroughly over cooking it.  But that's OK, I don't mind the occasional burnt burger (or chicken for that matter).

 

I started from a choice chuck steak.  I sectioned the muscles, trimmed the connective tissue, and cut the meat into strips.  There was very little fat unfortunately.  Half the strips I partially froze and half I returned to the refrigerator for another day.  The grinder attachment was well frozen.

 

I double ground the partially frozen strips, seasoned with a little salt and powdered garlic, using the course disc of the attachment.  The ground meat looked and smelled lovely.  I shaped the patty with two forks to keep from compressing it, and gave it a dash of worcestershire and a spray of grapeseed oil.  Finally I flipped it over into a hot pan.

 

How can I increase the cohesiveness of my home ground meat?  From this and a myriad other ground meat threads I've gleaned that perhaps butter or bacon added to the grind would help?

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

If you want the burger to bind together a bit more, fold in a small amount of salt to the ground beef about an hour before you're going to cook. This will draw out sticky myosin protein from the cells and help everything cohere. But if you let it sit for too long, it can bind it a little too much for my liking. I notice that you salted the meat before grinding, which will do the same thing, but you have to let it rest for the salt to do its work. So salt, grind, form patties, and then rest in the fridge for an hour before cooking. Keeping the patties well cooled before cooking them will also help them stay together.

 

Butter will add fat to the burger and help it become juicier, but won't help things cohere. In fact, because it will render out during the cooking process, larger cubes of butter will actually harm the texture. If you do add butter, freeze it and then grate it over the beef.

Edited by btbyrd (log)
  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

How about just compressing them a bit more?

 

It's worth a try.  I was so pleased with myself having formed a perfectly shaped patty without compressing it.  But I think I'll also take the suggestion of resting after grinding.  And maybe add some bacon.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 Share

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...