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Shel's "Ultimate" Pan Seared Burger

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Shel’s Pan Seared Burgers

Using techniques from Judy Rogers at the Zuni Café, Alton Brown at Food Network, and the Beef & Veal Time-Life Good Cook series book, here’s my rendition of a pan seared hamburger.

½ - lb good, fresh blade chuck

½ - lb good, fresh sirloin

Diamond Crystal Kosher salt

Take the chuck and sirloin and cut into 1-inch or so cubes. Salt very lightly (about 1 tsp max) with Diamond Crystal kosher salt or a favorite, similarly-sized grained sea salt, and toss well. If using regular table salt use a little less. Put salted meat in tightly closed glass or stainless container (don’t use plastic!) for eight hours or over night.

Just before preparing, finely chop the cold meat by hand using the two knife method as described in the Beef & Veal volume of the Good Cook series, or put into food processor with a well-sharpened blade (you may need to do this in two batches) and pulse each batch about eight or ten times. Do not overdo it - you want some texture and you don’t want the meat to get too warm. You may want to put the blade in the freezer for a while before chopping the meat, likewise the processor bowl.

If making in two batches, use a 50/50 mixture in each batch. Then, using your hands, gently mix each batch together. When done mixing form into two or three equal sized, thick patties. Shape them so they’re slightly dished into the center. That way when it cooks and tightens up, it will cook itself flat rather than round. Let the formed patties come up to room temp before putting them in the pan.

Cook in a very hot cast iron skillet to get a good sear, about three minutes on each side works for me. You can also use a heavy stainless steel lined skillet or sauté pan for this. Place the pan in a 450- 500-degree oven for about 30-minutes before adding the meat.

Put burgers on your favorite bread, like a toasted slice of French or Italian bread, ciabatta, or something similar, deglaze the pan with a little beef stock or red wine, make a little sauce, and pour lightly over burgers. Add your favorite topping - for me, for these burgers, it’s just the thinnest slice of red onion. I like to eat these open-faced.

A brief word about salt:

Diamond Crystal Kosher salt contains about 280mg of sodium per 1/4 tsp. Morton Kosher salt contains about 480mg of sodium per 1/4 tsp, plus yellow prussiate of soda (a water-soluble, anti-caking agent). Trader Joe’s Kosher salt contains about 730 mg of sodium per 1/4 tsp. Some sea salts are about 380mg of sodium. I may try this recipe with sea salt at some point.

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