Thursday, February 26, 2009

Making The Perfect Hamburger

Making The Perfect Hamburger

Hamburgers can be a controversial subject. Everyone has their favorite burger, and everyone thinks that theirs is the best.

This is our favorite burger, and it is the best.

A good burger starts with good, high fat beef. Recently, we've been making ours with the ground chuck Brandt Beef sells at our local farmers market. If you can't get high quality ground beef, grind your own.

We keep the meat mostly unadulterated - although we do add salt and some onion, chopped small enough that the pieces mostly disappear during cooking.

Making The Perfect Hamburger

You can see a pint of beer in the background. Now, I'm not saying that this is an essential part of the process, but then again I'm not saying it isn't...

What is certainly an essential part of the process is the cooking technique. While I love all sorts of things cooked on a barbecue, please keep my burger away from the flame. Burgers should be cooked in a large frying pan or on a griddle, where the fat they release lovingly caresses them during cooking rather than dripping uselessly away into the belly of a barbecue.

Making The Perfect Hamburger

Now for the toppings. We like to grill some onions along with the burgers (another way to make use of that nice fat in the pan). Cheese? Yes, please. I'm not ashamed to admit that I usually get American Cheese on a burger when eating out, but we can't quite bring ourselves to buy it for use at home.

These guys were topped with some home-smoked cheddar, which worked just fine indeed...

Making The Perfect Hamburger

I can take or leave lettuce on a burger, but I absolutely need tomato and pickle - as much of both as I can stack on and still keep things semi-manageable.

A great burger (cook mine medium rare, please), starts as a thing of beauty but is like a ticking time bomb - as its juices ooze out it begins to self destruct. Your challenge is to eat it before it completely falls apart - a challenge that I, for one, am always happy to accept.

Making The Perfect Hamburger

13 comments:

  1. WOW, what a great looking burger!! Stumbled on your wonderful blog today and looking forward in reading more of your posts in the future.. I'm inspired in making my own burgers now! Cheers,

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  2. Thanks, Dennis. For me, there is nothing quite as satisfying as a good burger.

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  3. Looking good. Did you use your WSM to smoke the cheddar? I've been looking around for tips on that, and it seems like the WSM gets too hot for smoking cheese.

    Oh, and I use the KitchenAid food grinder attachment religiously during the summer for grinding burger meat.

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  4. Thanks, Rhea. Yes, we used the WSM. It's actually fairly easy to keep it between 80 and 90 degrees by starting with one or two hot coals and a small chunk of smoke wood. Then you watch the temp and add a new hot coal as needed to keep it going (every 30-60 minutes maybe). We smoke cheese for 2-3 hours.

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  5. a very interesting and fun to read post. That's a good point about cooking the burger in a pan, and I will remember that for the next time I make some burgers...Do you guys like your burgers with any sauce? ketchup/mustard and what not?

    and may i say that that is one big @ss patty

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  6. Hi Sawyer - I'm not a big fan of ketchup/mustard/mayo on a burger. I do like plenty of ketchup with my fries, though...

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  7. I still can't stop staring at that burger.. I know what I'm having for lunch tomorrow!

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  8. Great burger! But don't forget to mention the importance of the bread: absolutely needs to be slightly toasted.

    Tip: burgers go well on french baquettes as well..

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  9. JMRjr - I agree completely. The bun needs to be toasted, but not too much.

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  10. though i do not agree with the pan cooking method, i like to add the fat via cheese and mayo (mayo is essential to keeping the bread/bun from becoming soggy) it looks like an amazing burger. My trick to help keep it together is to chop the onion before sauteing and then to hide it between the burger and cheese, that way the onion doesent come out of the burger on the first bite.
    p.s if your burgers are not 6-8 oz its a waste

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  11. Lovely Stuff...as ever your blog has me salivating.

    I've recently found that I can increase the lovely savoury beefy taste of burgers by either adding a few teaspoons of Nam Pla to the patty mix, or by dissolving a few anchovy fillets in the pan with the burgers. Doesn't taste fishy but somehow makes the beef more "beefy" and it manages to surpress my urges to fill the burger with other flavours like chilli!

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  12. Hi Stevie - we do that sometimes, too. We also like to add some pickled carrot and daikon and some pâté for a "banh mi" burger.

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