There are not many dishes I can think of that I crave more regularly than the good ol’ burger. And unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past decade, you can’t help but think twice before putting one of these in your mouths, thanks to all the fast food corporations mass producing these patties with grade C beef laced with animal scraps. And don’t even get me started on what other nasty stuff goes in (that’s another post altogether).
Though it may sound elementary by now, when did someone put a piece of meat inside of a bun and make food history?
Some food anthropologists have traced the hamburger back to Hamburg. In Germany, local traditional snacks are often named after the city where it originated, like the Frankfurter (Frankfurt), Berliner (Berlin) and the Thüringer (Thüringia). Back to Hamburg, one theory of origin was that locals will serve meat scraps in a round bun-shaped bread called the Brötchen, and it made a quick takeaway meal that was cheap and tasty. And since then, little has changed about the burger. It’s still well… a piece of meat inside a bun.
But what you put INSIDE the meat makes most of the difference. Here are some basic guidelines when it comes to making your own burger.
First, about the bun.
Bun Rule #1 – ALWAYS toast the buns. Why? Warm toasted bun just tastes better!
Bun Rule #2 – ALWAYS lightly butter the insides of the bun. Why? It forms a liquid-proof layer that will prevent the bun from totally disintegrating when the juices from the patty run. Remember how irritating it is when you’re halfway through the burger and the bottom half other bun turns to mush?
Next, guidlelines of the patty.
Patty Rule #1 – NEVER mix raw onions into the patty mix. Raw onions add too much pungency to the mix, and never gets nicely sweetened when you cook it with the meat. Just saute the onions in olive oil for a few minutes then add it in.
Patty Rule #2 – TRY to make your own mince. Yes, you heard me. I don’t trust the mince I buy from supermarkets as I have no idea which part of the bovine goes into it. Not to mention the “Weight-watcher’s mince”. Buy a few slabs of good looking chuck steak, then pulse it in your food processor until you have a nice blend of fine mince and chunks. Better texture for your patty too!
Lastly, guidelines of dressing your burger.
Dressing Rule #1 – Top your burger with anything you want, or nothing at all. A good burger needs nothing but it’s also very adaptable and can take most savory flavors. Be creative, and most importantly, be indulgent.
Dressing Rule #2 – Go topless if need be. A burger that’s too tall is difficult to eat, so leave the top off and show your guests all the goodness you’re feeding them.
So then, what goes inside a burger then?
Here’s my basic recipe. And since I usually never measure when I cook, I have no real metrics for you, all proportions are guessimates.
About 500gms of chuck steak, pulsed in food processor (see above)
dash of salt
dash of black pepper
ground coriander seeds
half teaspoon of mustard
half an onion – saute with olive oil
Handful of grated parmesan
about half cup of breadcrumbs
Mix everything together with half of the breadcrumbs, adding more if mixture is too wet. The egg binds the mixture, and the breadcrumbs absorbs some liquid if it’s too wet. Fashion thick patties then dust it with breadcrumbs then fridge it for at least 20 minutes. This allows the flavors to get to know each other and for the patty to hold it’s shape. To cook, fry in pan with olive oil. And depending on how thick the patty is, you might have to finish it in the oven to make sure it cooks through. But don’t overcook, it’s not sexy.
Here’s two badly taken pics of what the burger I made a few months back, topped with some mushrooms saute in butter and topped with truffle oil. It looks ugly, but its darn good.