First, a great burger starts with great beef. If you’re looking
for me to tell you that you must use chuck (the shoulder of the
beef) or some other specific cut that you see on some hot
restaurant menu, then look elsewhere.
Truthfully, if you start with a properly raised beef that has roamed around
on pasture and consumed good food without all the antibiotics, animal and
industry by-products, and all the other crap that goes into most beef, then it
really doesn’t matter what cut you use.
At that point, the only thing that matters is that you have the right amount
of fat – somewhere around 20% fat content (up to 25%, no less than 15%). It just
so happens that meat from the chuck of the beef will have the proper amount of
fat, but so will brisket, and skirt, and flank, and rib… all of which are great
cuts for burger. Proper dry ageing of the beef by your butcher will, of course,
improve the taste that much more.
Second, grind the beef through a grinder only once, using a fine-to-medium
plate. I recently watched a YouTube video of a well-known butcher in New York
demonstrating how his “secret” for a good burger is to run the beef through his
grinder three times. Gasp! Sir, you ain’t making burgers, you’re making paste
patties. If you want a real burger, get beef that has been freshly ground only
once through a fine or medium size grinder plate. Alternatively, get a cut of
meat from your butcher and chop it finely by hand – a true steak burger.
Third, go easy on the seasonings. Good quality sea salt and freshly cracked
black pepper is all you need. If you’re going to add other ingredients, fine,
but your goal is to complement the flavour of the good quality meat you
purchased, not completely overtake its flavour. I’m not going to get into a
discussion of all the possible spices and ingredients since the options are
endless; the point to remember is don’t go overboard.
Finally, grill to pink. Lightly brush the grill with oil if you’re using a
barbeque or heat a little oil in a skillet. Cook the patty for 3 minutes over
medium heat, flip using a sharp spatula, and cook for another 2.5 minutes over
medium-low heat to achieve medium rare, an extra minute for medium.
A fresh bun and a few choice toppings are all you need to complete
perfection. I’m a big fan of caramelized onions, tomato (if in season), mayo,
ketchup, and piece of Romaine lettuce… but I’ll leave you to paint your own
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