Making a great burgerTuesday, January 15
We are half way through the first month of the year and your resolution is either going well, or, and much more likely, life has gotten in the way and you have already forgotten about your plan to change.
Well, if you haven’t completely thrown in the towel yet and need a little convincing to give up your master plan to get in shape, this column should go a long way to pushing you over the edge. This week we discuss the food group that probably causes us to have to make resolutions in the first place.
That food group is the burger. Okay, okay, I know, it’s not actually a recognized food group on Canada’s food guide, but given our insatiable appetite for them, maybe they should be.
Where to start with making a great burger though? Well, you have to start with the meat. Whether you favour a classic beef burger or prefer a little more variety in your patties, the key is to start with top quality meat. What you choose is almost limitless. We have featured bison, Kobe beef, ostrich, venison, chicken, turkey and lamb just to name a few, but you can create a patty out of virtually any meat you choose. You can even prepare a vegetable patty.
I’m not suggesting you grind up tenderloin to make your burger better. That would be a pointless waste of great tenderloin. I am referring to the calibre of meat you choose. For example, rather than simply buying grade A Alberta beef, which would probably do a decent job for making a burger, we work with exclusively use Heritage Angus Beef from Spirit View Ranch for our burgers. They pride themselves on raising hormone and antibiotic free beef that are raised naturally, as was intended.
When preparing a top-quality beef burger, it is also imperative to consider the blend. I am referring to the various cuts that one can choose from to prepare your ground beef. Just because it’s all beef, it doesn’t mean it’s all the same tasting and texturally. Each cut provides its own unique addition to our blend. After much testing and sampling, we have concluded that the best blend for our burgers is as follows.
Sirloin- 40% by weight: although it lacks some flavour on its own, it’s very tender and binds quite well once it has been ground
Short Rib- 30% by weight: with its rich and nutty flavour and high degree of fine marbling (intramuscular fat) it helps to pack the flavour in and keep the patty moist
Brisket— 30% by weight: providing a distinct aroma and flavour of iron and liver and with its moderate to low-fat content, it provides the right balance to round out the burger
Grinding these three cuts together allows us to have a nice balance of flavor and texture and helps us achieve our desired 85% lean blend. This is crucial because too lean and it will result in a dry burger, but if it’s too fatty the result will be a great deal of flare-ups over the open flame and a greasy tasting end result.
The next priority: the bun. The balance of burger patty to bun needs to be just right. Too much bread and the taste of the beef and condiments is lost. Not enough bun and your burger won’t hold together. This can also be the case with a bun that is too soft, without enough structure to stay together as the juices of the burger permeate into the bun. I tend to be a traditionalist when it comes to my bun choice, sticking with a good quality classic hamburger bun, but sometimes, when I am really indulging, I lean towards a brioche bun. Its buttery goodness almost melts in your mouth, but the bun manages to hold together.
From there, it comes down to selecting the toppings. There is one simple key to keep in mind. How will all of the flavours work together? I try to stick to a theme or focus when putting my creations together. If I am feeling spicy I might throw some hot sauce in the patty mixture, jalapeno havarti, and salsa for toppings, and round it out with a nice chipotle mayo. They are all ingredients that work well together.
Here is a Classic Burger Recipe and I’ll let you make your own decisions about just how far you want to take it.
Classic Burger Recipe
Makes: Six 6 oz. burgers
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Rest Time: 30 minutes
Cooking Time: 8-10 minutes
Special Tools: meat grinder or grinder attachment for Kitchenaid
400 gr. fresh sirloin
300 gr. fresh short rib
300 gr. fresh brisket
¾ cup panko bread crumbs
1 tsp. fresh thyme
1 Tbsp. garlic powder
1 Tbsp. onion powder
1 Tbsp. Worcestershire
1 tsp. Tabasco
Salt and pepper
You may be surprised to see the bread crumbs in the burgers. If you don’t have a small amount of bread crumbs acting as a binding agent in your patties you are asking for trouble when grilling your burgers. If you are pan searing them you can get away without it, but decrease the eggs to one.
Cube the meat into manageable sized pieces to feed into your grinder
Using the grinder attachment on your Kitchenaid, or a grinder, work the meat through the grinder with a medium sized extruder attachment
Once blended,place in a large bowl with the remaining ingredients and using your hands, work to combine everything evenly, without overworking the mixture
Place in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to allow the mixture to bind
Split the mixture into 6 equal portions and then form into patties
If you are confident your meat is fresh and from a reliable source then you can safely serve these less than well done, even cooking them to medium if you choose, do not attempt to do this if the beef has been in your fridge overnight, or if it is not the absolute freshest
Cook them to your desired liking and then begin to put your very own Resolution Buster burger!
To help you take your burger to the next level, try preparing a little bit of chipotle mayo to go with it.
1 Tbsp. chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, pureed
1 cup mayonnaise
¼ cup ketchup
1 Tbsp. honey
salt and pepper to taste
Combine ingredients and mix until homogenous
Prepare this at least 30 minutes in advance and refrigerate to allow the flavours to come together