I’m kind of a burger snob. I like good, simple burgers, not ones filled with sauces and fillers. If you’re whipping out the Worcestershire or drenching with Dale’s, you’re covering up the flavor, not enhancing it. So put away your sauces and let’s talk about a burger that tastes like…well, beef.
The Meat of the Matter
The rule of thumb when picking beef for burgers is this: More fat=juicer burgers. The dilemma: More fat usually means more shrinkage, and the lean beef makes for dry patties. So what to do? Combine two types of ground beef –I prefer half ground chuck and ground round (sirloin). This yields a juicy burger that won’t shrink to the size of a silver dollar.
Two Become One
You have to get those two types of meat together. Back in my early cooking days, I wold squeeze the raw ground meat until it was a mass of unrecognizable texture; this is what causes “meatloaf patty” syndrome. Instead of squeezing, simply fold the two types of beef together with your fingers until well mixed—no squishing necessary. I usually season the mixture at this point. Keep it simple—kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper.
It’s True, Size Matters.
No matter what type of ground beef you choose, a little shrinkage is inevitable. Here’s the trick—bigger is better. I make my patties a ¼ inch to ½ inch wider than the bun. They will look massive, but the overcompensation helps once they hit the heat. A little more salt and pepper sprinkled on both sides and you’re good to go. Another tip: when making the patties, try to get the edges as smooth as possible, helps keep the juices from escaping.
Feeeeel the Heat…
Searing the burger is crucial to locking in moisture. Pre-heat your grill, grill pan, cast iron skillet or random skillet of your choice (non-stick = non-crust). You want to hear that kssss sound when it hits the heat. Cook until a really nice crust has formed and then flip. If you are cooking on the stove, sear both sides and then finish off in a pre-heated 350 degree oven for about 5 minutes (depending on your doneness factor). Do not slap, poke, or squish the patty with the spatula! What did it do to you? Every time you abuse your patty, you lose moisture…so stop!
Top It Off
Just because you practiced burger purity and kept your patty simple doesn’t mean you can’t go wild with toppings. Give that patty some love. My fave is sharp cheddar, bacon and arugula. I also like a using a warm cherry tomato relish. You haven’t seen that recipe on here? You will soon—it’s good.