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This issue: The Perfect Burger - Part 1 

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VOLUME 36

The Perfect Burger

Part 1

by Mario Fiorucci

as published in
Tonic Toronto

 

Mmmm… hamburger (said la Homer Simpson). I can’t think of many dishes that are so easy to make, yet completely transcend the sum of its parts to become sublime. It is unfortunate that such a brilliant idea – that is, lightly pressing together some good minced beef with a little seasoning, grilling it for 5 minutes, and serving it on a fresh bun with a few choice toppings – has been turned into a mass-produced, tasteless, and nutritionally void food item that epitomizes the fast food industry. But, don’t get me started on the 10+ billion awful burgers sold each year; instead, let’s discuss the four rules for making The Perfect Burger. In next month`s article I`ll get into the nitty gritty of eggs, breadcrumbs, and mixing.


continued below...

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VOLUME 36 ... THE PERFECT BURGER - Part 1

 

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. HB burger 

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 masterpiece.


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