Saturday, July 2, 2011

Building the Best Burger

It's summer, it's 4th of July weekend and this means that it's burger season.  Everywhere you go there will be hot dogs and burgers on the grill.  So this begs the question, what makes the best burger?
Is the best burger thick or thin?  Dressed to the max or to the minimum?  American or cheddar?  Medium rare or well done?  Pan seared or grill? 
Too many questions--I have answers.

The Best Burger is 1/4 lb; weigh it out.  Handle the patty as little as possible.  Weight it, roll it into a ball and then smush the patty down so that is approx. 1/4" larger than your bun all the way around.  This allows for shrinkage and makes for a juicy, well done burger. 
Season your patties with kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper.  If you add things to it you are creating meatloaf or meatball patties--not hamburgers.  If you are using anything lower than a 90-10 blend I suggest adding a tsp of butter during the last few seconds on the grill.  This gives it a rich mouth feel that you might be missing out on.
Grill your burgers.  Do yourself a favor, don't do this inside.  Go out, light up your grill and become one with your inner cave woman (or man).  You just won't get that beautifully flame kissed, seared outside in a pan.
Don't overcook them.  If you follow my advice and go with 1/4lb patties they will only need to cook 2-3 minutes per side on high heat. 
I like cheese.  I don't really think you can go wrong with any kind of cheese, but my preference is American.  Put your cheese on during the last minute.  You want melted gooey cheese, not a cold slice that will never melt once removed from the grill.
Dress your burger with the basics.  What does this mean?  A great roll; cibatta or a white sesame seed bun are great options.  I like my bun warm.  This means ketcup, yellow mustard, sliced onion, dill pickle chips, lettuce and tomato.  Don't get fancy. 
If you do decide to go fancy keep it simple.  Don't overwhelm the meat with too much stuff.  I add bacon for a salty, crunchy addition.

Well there you have it.  That's how I'd do it if I were you.  I can tell you this works because I just polished off a mouthwatering speciman of the cheeseburger variety.  Enjoy.

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