I am on a burger quest. I love hamburgers, or more precisely cheeseburgers. That glorious combination of beef, cheese and produce piled on a fluffy bun is the ultimate pairing of raw ingredients. Don’t try and pass off anything pre-made to me: I want it all fresh and made to order. Beef quest will focus on five items: meat preparation, meat cooking, cheese, the bun and toppings.
Let’s start off today with the meat. A great burger to me is 100% beef: we don’t need to add pork, veal or bacon to the mix. The beef should be about 75% meat and 25% fat to get a nice juicy burger. Ground chuck is an excellent choice; my other is a fatty brisket. I’ve read of sirloin and shortribs but that’s getting too pricy for this humble meal.
Seasonings: salt and pepper, no other need apply. Yes, I’ve tried mixing a ton of different things into my burger. Add an egg to make it wet and bind it, then add breadcrumbs to dry it out. Here’s an idea: leave it alone! Salt and pepper added to each side as it’s cooked it all you need. Eating a burger is about tasting the meat and toppings, each of which I like to keep separate. If you need to add something, try grated onion, minced garlic or adobo, but only add one thing at a time. Get a taste for the item and decide if it needs one more thing. Tossing everything into the bowl with the beef already has a name: meatloaf.
Last but not least: grind your own meat. I have a KitchenAid stand mixer with the meat grinder attachment and it does an excellent job. It comes with two different sizes of grinder plates and the smaller is perfect for ground beef. The only way to know exactly what goes into your ground beef is to do it yourself.