I’ve posted a few burgers by now, so it’s time i got some facts straight. 4.5 of them to begin and one extra.
Get to know a butcher and never disagree with your butcher. They may be smartass know-it-alls most of the time but in any case you want them on your side. So be polite. Don’t share too much information on what you’re doing, they’ll confuse you, but always ask for their opinion. And then buy whatever the fuck you went there to get in the first place.
1. The meat.
In a burger, it is everything. No matter what fancy shit one may encounter in a burger, if the meat sucks, it sucks.
Get yourself some nice fatty (20-30%) ground meat. Try stuff and figure out what you like. As long as there’s enough fat content it’ll always be interesting. Most people use chuck. That’s the upper front part of a cow all the way to the ribs. Others use shortrib.. If you got money to spend, a meat grinder (butchers will refuse to do it for you), and absolutely no respect for most things in life, you can also use the area between the 6th and 12th rib. That is where ribsteaks come from. Some people also use the back area of the cow. It tastes different but and it is worth a try. Sirloins or round. Just make sure you get the fat content right.
If you want to take things to the next level you can always blend those toghether.
Google those cuts.
2. The grind.
Never ever buy pre-ground meat. If you can’t do it at home get your butcher to do it. Make sure that they’ll grind it twice and that they will empty their machine beforehand so you dont get whatever shit was left in there from the previous grind. They wont be happy.
Again to take things to the next level grind the meat yourself, a coarse grind the first time, and a finer the latter. You’ll get great texture out of that.
Google Pat LaFrieda.
3. The forming.
Don’t fiddle around with your mince. The temperature difference between the meat and your hands will ruin the fat. Keep it in a cool place until the last moment and then form it, season and cook it. Only season right before cooking otherwise the salt will mess with the moisture of the patty and result in a sausage-like texture. There are different ways to form a patty as there are to cook it. Depending on size and cooking method you can basically hand form it, smash it, or use a ring to form it without touching it. There are lots of other ways but these are the ones 80% of the time.
If you are gonna broil it I can’t tell you much. It needs to be kinda big, >200g, loosely formed, and you can touch it as much as you want. Most of the fat with be lost anyway. Let some air in it. It cooks better that way. When forming it press the center to get it thinner than the sides. It will keep your patty from turning into a meatball.
If you are to cook it on a griddle or on a pan make sure you get it really hot first. If you dont want to pre-form the patty just make a ball of mince, smaller than the broil, around 100g-150g place it on the pan, season, and smash it to a patty with a spatula. Dont worry if the shape is not too regular, it’s part of the beauty of this technique. Feel free to place some thin sliced onions before smashing too, tastes great.
To pre-form a burger without any touching just get a metal ring or create one with tin foil, that fits the diameter of your bun. Throw some mince in there and gently press it down. Again make sure you get it thiner in the center, and that you pressed it loosely enough to keep air moving in there. Like I did here.
To the next level: Do what Heston Blumenthal did with the patties for his “perfect” burger before he went on to create them artificially.
Google: Smashed burger
4. The cooking.
Well. Get some nice heat on your girdle, pan or whatever (dunno much about grilling burgers), add a few drops of olive oil or a slice of real butter and place the patties or balls on top. You can always add chopped onions and a few drops of worcestershire sauce or any other umami flavor enhancer. If you got the right meat it’ll probably taste good anyway. Depending on your cooking preference remember to flip it at some point. Everything you ever wished to know about burger flipping, you can find it in the burger lab.
Ketchup. Don’t use it. Try your burger without a buttload of red sugar first. If you don’t like it that way you can always drown it in ketchup anytime you want.
These would be a few fundamental things to know about patties. Start cooking and you’ll find there are many more. Also keep an eye on the burger lab in serious eats.