You should know upfront that in the world of burger-making
"experts", many will adamantly argue that eggs and breadcrumbs
have no part in the making of The Perfect Burger, that such
ingredients are appropriate for meatloaf, and it is an insult to
add them to good quality meat to make a hamburger.
Personally, I`m on the opposite side of the fence and I`ll tell you why: A
beaten egg acts as a natural binder, and a small amount of fresh breadcrumbs
absorbs the juices that would otherwise melt onto your barbeque and also help
maintain the shape and size of your burger. Let`s face reality: A burger that
falls apart when cooking is no longer a burger; further, a burger that has lost
all of its fat will be dry. Even worse, dripping fat causes flare-ups making the
cooking experience that much more difficult and far less enjoyable (try sipping
a beer while metre high flames are singing your eyebrows). So, while I agree
with the burger purists that the ultimate burger is made up of only good quality
beef, salt and pepper, the reality is the finished product is more often than
not superior when eggs and breadcrumbs are added... not too much, just enough to
do their respective jobs – about 1 egg per two or three pounds of meat, and
about 1 cup of breadcrumbs to five pounds of meat.
Mixing and forming your burgers properly is also key to achieving perfection.
Rule: Do not overwork the meat. Mix the meat only by hand, not a with a machine,
and only to the point where the proteins are binding together. A proper burger
mix is semi-emulsified (I’m not sure this term actually exists, what I’m trying
to get at is that the mix is not a full emulsification, but the ingredients are
holding together firmly). If you under mix, the burger may fall apart when
cooking. If you overwork the meat, you`ll end up with a burger that has a pasty
texture. I wish there was a better way for me to describe at what point you
should stop mixing, but it simply comes from practice – mix till you think it
will be easy to form the patties, and not a second more.
All in all, to summarize Parts 1 and 2, The Perfect Burger is made from good
quality beef that has fat content around 20%, ground once, seasoned lightly to
enhance the flavour of the beef (not overtake the flavour), a little egg and
breadcrumb to help with binding, all of which are mixed by hand (but not over
mixed), and grilled to pink. If you have all the above, all that’s missing is
family and friends to celebrate your masterpieces.
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