Crafting the perfect burger
I don’t care what you say, when it comes to convenience, I can hardly see anything dethroning burgers in the near future. Whether you like them because they’re easy to prepare or because they offer a wide range of options, you know you can’t go wrong when you’re adding “Burgers” to your weekly menu.
In its simplest form, a burger is an “old school” type of meal, but when you allow yourself to get creative and try things out, you’re facing an adult playground.
There are multiple schools of thought when it comes to burgers. A lot of regions have designed their own local signature burger over time, up to a point where it’s instilled in the culture of the people in the area.
Even though styles, ingredients, and structures can range a lot, there are fundamentals that can’t be neglected when you set yourself on a path to craft the perfect burger.
What makes a burger perfect?
Although there will always be room for debate, the perfect burger combination should include a very define set of characteristics:
- It should be soft to the bite, but firm enough to make you want to dig in with intent;
- It needs a little crisp;
- It’s patty should be meticulously made with the right ratios and cuts of meats, and be moist, but not dripping with liquids;
- It’s got to be fat but also garnished with something acidic to perfectly balance the taste; and
- It needs a full-bodied flavor to activate all of your taste buds.
This list sounds more intricate than it actually should. Oftentimes, adding a single garnish can cover a few bases all at once.
A burger’s structural integrity
What you put in a burger is one thing, but the order in which you stack everything plays a major role in the end result.
Structural integrity is all about being mindful of the way ingredients are reacting with each other, and burgers should always be built on this sound basis. The width and shape of the bottom bun, for example, will often define how your burger will react once you place it back down after the first bite. Working with a flat-shaped and fluffy bun is then always favorable. A perfect burger should also be built in a way that it protects its buns from turning soggy. Layering the bottom bun with cheese, for instance, is a good way to make sure that it stays dry. Doing this will also help keep everything together as the cheese melts over time. Now that we’ve covered the buns, let’s move to the next step: adding the patty (or patties), the condiments, and the extra toppings.
In the same way that you want to protect the buns, you also want to preserve the crispy element as much as possible. It can range from fried onions to bacon, to cheese tuiles… whatever floats your boat. This means that if you intend to add tomatoes and other liquid-prone toppings, they should sit atop the patty, whereas if you’re working with avocados or fatty ingredients, they can be added on top over the crispy garnish since they won’t soften it up.
At last, you want to top things off with a nice and creamy burger sauce before putting the top bun in place, crowning the burger in all of its glory.
The perfect burger: my humble opinion
Now that you understand the physics and science behind a perfect burger, it’s time to actually pick ingredients and start crafting.
I’ve cooked hundreds of different burgers throughout the years; I’ve narrowed down the options to a limited number of ingredients, and I’ve come to realize that although simplicity is key, thought has to be put in every element of the burger, not just the meat.
Also, to set the record straight and be upfront about it, the perfect burger has to feel a bit like a “cheat-day” meal, meaning that it should be on the greasy side if we really want to claim that it’s the best burger ever. So… get ready for some deliciousness!
Starting with the bottom, I recommend working with soft salted-pretzel buns. They are very soft inside, but still have a firm exterior which will give texture to every bite. The outer edges of the buns also prevent it from getting soggy too quickly. (In the end, clearly, these buns are a win-win option.)
Now that the buns are selected, it’s time to fill them up. I suggest starting with cheese. For the first cheese layer, use Emmental (or your favorite cheese), and sprinkle some House of BBQ Experts’ Montreal spice mix and rub over it.
Patty-wise, I’ll always put my money on a good 80/20 ratio made out of a mixture of ground chuck, brisket flat, and short rib. This combination results in a gamey flavor with lots of beef funk. You can also add a dab of Worcestershire sauce and seasoning to your mix to elevate it even more.
When it comes to meat, however, I like to have multiple thin patties in my burger and stack Emmental between each one of them. If you’re like me, you’ll want to cook them over high temperature charcoal and you’ll want to char the edges just a little bit (the GrillGrates works wonders for that).
While the patties are cooking, adding a thin layer of House of BBQ Experts’ Espresso sauce is a sure bet as it is designed to boost the flavor of beef (the House of BBQ Experts’ Montreal spice mix and rub also works well for this). Once the sauce has set, add some shredded mozzarella and you’re off to the garnishes.
Keep in mind that whatever touches your tongue first will set the stage for the rest of the experience. This is why I always try to build my burgers in a way that the fattiest or saltiest ingredients ignites my palate. To achieve this, I add a parmesan tuile and thick-sliced bacon on top of each of my patties, and then, I add some avocados and burger sauce on top of it all. By doing this, I am making sure that my taste buds are exposed to different flavors all at once. If you’re feeling wild, adding an onion ring and a sunny-side up egg at this stage is also a good call. The fried onion will add some crunchiness while the egg yolk will bind everything together.
Last but not least, I recommend finishing the inside of the burger off with a light touch of House of BBQ Experts’ Ketchot and Colonel Mustard sauces, and some sweet burger pickles to even out the flavors. Top it all off with the top bun, and from there, you’ve got yourself a one-way ticket to BBQ heaven.
As you can see, crafting the perfect burger doesn’t have to be super hard. It’s the little things that make a big difference. This burger combines sweet, savory, tangy, and spicy flavors all under a single item, resulting in a perfectly balanced burger that should win you over in an instant.
Off you go now, there is perfection to be enjoyed!