World famous and for good reason, burgers never fail to seduce me into a non-vegan lifestyle. But I’m not talking about boring fast food burgers, I mean real, home-made, fully-loaded beef burgers with all the fixings. Crispy bacon, fried mushrooms, caramelized onions, fresh lettuce, juicy tomatoes and loaded with sharp cheddar cheese. Or whatever your favourite topping is! Here’s five tips for making better burgers this summer.
1. The right beef
This is a no-brainer. The better quality of beef you buy, the better the hamburger. Look for freshly ground beef preferably from a butcher that knows what they’re doing. Better yet, grind your own. The meat should be dry, fresh and preferably a mix of chuck and brisket.
2. Fresh buns
The most important rule for a good burger is a good bun. Without a soft, fluffy bun the burger will be ruined and you might as well make something else. Make your own burger buns for the best results or buy fresh buns. Leave the old, stale burger buns in the compost.
A lot of people are scared of fat but fat is flavour. A good burger must have 15-25% fat content to be juicy and maxed out on deliciousness. Ask your butcher to grind a little bacon into your burger meat and you will have the best burger on the planet.
If you can’t find a butcher willing to do this then you can also use a technique called larding. Larding is an old technique that is the addition of fat to meat. I cut a small cube of butter and stuff it in the middle of the burger while forming the patties. As the burger cooks, the butter will melt into the meat providing a little flavour boost.
4. Keeping it simple
The best burgers are always 100% meat with nothing else added. I see people sometimes add breadcrumbs and eggs to burgers – please stop doing this! It’s totally not needed and your patty will start to taste more like a sausage then a burger. I prefer to not add any spices or even herbs because I want the full flavour of the beef.
5. Good sauce
I think a good sauce is important to really tie everything together. You can buy your favourite sauce from the store or try this recipe for Mac Sauce.
A bit on burger doneness
Some people like to cook their burgers like a steak and serve it still a bit pink. You can do this if you like but you do run the risk of food poisoning. A steak can be cooked less because there is less chance that bacteria can reach the inside of the meat. A burger on the other hand, is ground and air is mixed in meaning a higher chance of adding dangerous bacteria. So do this at your own risk. A burger should always be cooked at a minimum of 140F for medium and 160F for a safe burger.
There’s my tips for better burgers. If you think I’ve missed anything or have any questions feel free to comment below!
The Perfect Burgers
- Baking trays for the buns
- Brush for the egg wash
- 1 Dinner roll recipe Rolled into 6 instead of 8 from the original recipe
For the Burgers
- 1 kg ground beef preferably chuck and brisket
- 6 small butter cubes a little bit smaller than in the picture
- 3 whole tomatoes cored
- ½ kg button mushrooms
- 12 slices bacon
- 6 slices cheddar cheese
- 6 pieces boston bib lettuce or iceberg lettuce
- 2 whole pickles sliced thin
- 1 recipe big mac sauce
- 1 whole egg whisked with a splash of cold water
- 1 tbsp sesame seeds
- salt and pepper to taste
- toothpicks to hold the burger together
- BBQ sauce
- If you want to make the burger buns then keep reading but if you bought burger buns already then skip to step 4.Follow the instructions to make the dinner roll recipe but instead of shaping into 8 balls we will shape into 6. Rest for about an hour. Cover with plastic wrap.
- Set the oven to 175°C/350°F. Carefully brush the hamburger buns with the egg wash. Sprinkle generously with sesame seeds.
- Bake in the oven for 10 minutes, turn and then back in the oven for 7 minutes more. When they reach 200°F on a thermometer they're perfect.
- Season the burgers generously with salt and pepper in a bowl and mix thoroughly.
- Roll the burgers into balls first, then stuff the butter cubes in the middle. Make the cubes a little smaller than in the picture for best results.
- Shape the burgers with clean hands into burger patties. Make sure the butter is completely covered by the meat.
- Get all the other ingredients ready to go. Fry the bacon until crispy and then cook the mushrooms in the bacon fat. Make the mac sauce. Slice the cheese, pickles, tomatoes, and pick the lettuce. Have everything ready to go so when the burgers are ready, you are ready.
- Fire up the BBQ and grill the burgers over medium high heat. Quarter turn once, then flip, then quarter turn again. This takes about 10-15 minutes in total.
- Once the burgers are almost ready add the cheese and bacon. Cook to 160°F/71°C.
- Slice the buns and toast them if you like. On the top add the sauces, lettuce, tomatoes and pickles. On the bottom put the mushrooms and then the burger with the cheese and bacon. Hold together with a toothpick if necessary. Enjoy!