There are five basic Beef Burger rules, and they are: 1. quality meat 2. good seasoning 3. high heat 4. fresh buns 5. fresh toppings. If you follow these rules you will make the perfect beef burger; and unless you want to mince your own meat most of the actual work is going to be done by your butcher, so go to a local butcher with good recommendations. The perfect burger also uses four different cuts of meat, this is necessary to get the best taste, and this is what lifts the burger you are going to make from everyone else’s.
Important Tips: While many cooks and recipes like to season the meat (with normally a ‘secret’ list of spices and herbs etc.) before shaping it into patties, we recommend that you do not do this. Salt naturally draws moisture out of whatever it touches, so if you season the meat mixture before you even shape your burger, it’s going to start to “cook” that meat from the inside, the burger will start to sweat and you won’t get that nice sear from the grill. You also do not want the burger meat-patties to be flavoured with onions, garlic or other sauces when making the mincemeat – the beef is the star in the burger, let it shine through. The toppings added later will add the complementing flavours to the burger. Also ignore the myth about adding in breadcrumbs or egg yolk etc. to bind the pattie mixture, we just want 100% aged beef from 4 different cuts for the perfect burger. They will bind naturally together when shaping the patties.
ORDERING YOUR MEAT & BUNS
Give your butcher plenty of notice and a list of the ‘cuts’ you want minced together. The meat should be high quality and aged – supermarket meat, sweating in those packets, is just not going to make the grade. At the butchers, ask them to use a combination of four cuts of aged beef in the mincemeat for you: equal amounts of meat from – two different cuts from the chuck or shoulder, a cut from the rump or leg and a cut from the short-rib. Then get their best recommended dry-cured, smoked back bacon (rind-less) for one of the toppings.
At the bakers, put your order in for large (10-12cm) fresh baked sesame seeded buns (baps) a day or two earlier. This way you can pick them up fresh on the day you need them, this is important as they will be waiting for you, and they will not have run out of them if you are needing them in the summer BBQ period. Bakers tend to be able to make the bigger buns you are going to need for the burgers, shop-bought ones tend to be too small or several days old. You can of course make your own bread dough the night before, shape into buns, and bake in the morning.
The Perfect Beef Burger Recipe
Makes 24 burgers, halve the amounts to make 12
- 4 kg of Mince-beef made from 4 cuts (see above) – makes 24 patties
- 24 Fresh sesame seeded burger buns (about 10cm round)
- sea salt to season
- freshly ground black pepper to season
Toppings (not all will be added, add them to individual taste)
- 6 large onions (some fried – chopped small: some fresh – in thin rings)
- 15 tomatoes (sliced thin)
- 3 Lettuce (sliced thin)
- 400g Mild Cheddar Cheese (sliced thin)
- 1 small jar Good Quality Mayonnaise (or home-made)
- 24 slices rindless back bacon (wash the extra salt out first, dry, and crisp it up on a high heat)
- 6 jalapeno chilli peppers (de-seeded, sliced and added to the mayonnaise)
- Bottle Of Good Quality Tomato Sauce
- Jar Of Pickled Gerkins (sliced thin)
Mix and then shape the mincemeat into 170g patties. Add nothing else into the mince-meat patties. You can shape them up into burgers in advance, and leave covered in the fridge ready to cook them later. Bring them out of the fridge 20 minutes before cooking to bring them up to room temperature first.
Put a cast-iron grill pan on a very high heat, or make sure the BBQ has been lit, and if charcoal allowed to get to the glowing hot ember stage. Season each burger generously with freshly ground black pepper and sea salt just before it hits the hot grill. The high heat is necessary for the caramelised, crusty exterior, which is essential for the taste of the ‘perfect’ burger: once you can see a nice caramelising texture happening on both sides, the burger should be done. Do not be tempted to keep turning the burgers too much, give each side of the burger time to caramelise.
Always cook your burgers to a ‘medium done’ standard, so the last of the pink just disappears from the middle, and never ‘well-done’. Your local butcher should be providing quality sourced meat – however, if worried, use a digital probe to check the temperature – if the meat in the centre is between 61 to 71C, they are fine. Then leave the burgers somewhere warm to ‘rest’ for a few minutes. It is important to let the meat rest after cooking on such a high heat before serving.
Serve the burgers in a fresh, sesame seeded bun, topped with nothing but mild chilli mayonnaise, crisp sliced lettuce, thin sliced tomato, fried and raw onion, tomato sauce, sliced pickled gerkins, bacon and a thin slice of mild cheddar cheese – add each of the toppings according to the tastes of the person who wants to eat the burger, or let them ‘make’ their own, serving each topping in a side dish.