Sunday, December 16, 2012

Burger Business Names Top Burgers of the Year

While I agree that the idea of topping a burger with pulled pork represents a major step forward in the "meat as condiment" movement, I can't say I'm on board with Burger Business' top picks for Burger of the Year (Chain).

I thought the Burger King Summer Menu Burgers were pretty amateurish with the "Memphis" Burger being wrong on just about every level and the "Carolina" Burger fairing only slightly better.

But maybe this speaks to a larger problem with the whole chain burger category.

What was your favorite burger of the year? Chain or otherwise. Sound off in the comments section.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Dan, I really love good hamburgers, but making an acceptable burger seems to elude most home cooks (and even many restaurants!) Their idea of a burger is to take a wad of generic unseasoned ground beef, crushing it flat, throwing it on the grill and cooking it to death while squashing it with a spatula. Even worse, many cooks will mix the ground beef with beaten eggs, bread crumbs and then compressing it into airless hockey pucks before cooking them to shoe leather consistency. Making a good burger is really more about using the correct method than a recipe.

The ingredient list is ultra-simple; ground beef with enough fat to give it moisture and flavor, salt, pepper and a good fresh toasted bun. The most important detail in making a good hamburger is when taking the meat out of the package to prepare the burgers, handle it like eggs that might crack with too much pressure. You want to preserve those "noodles" (the wavy strands you see in the package, created by the store’s meat grinder.) Any excessive pressure applied will compress the meat fibers, leading to tight, tough hamburgers. Here is the best method I have found to make great hamburgers: First, remove about five ounces of freshly ground chuck (80% lean) from the pile of ground beef in the package and then handle it VERY gently. Preserving those “noodles” of beef will yield a burger that is light, juicy, and ALMOST falling apart. Place the wad of meat on a cutting board or parchment paper in its unformed state, making sure that it is just a little bit wider than the finished-size burger you want. Lightly sprinkle the meat with Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper. Gently push the outsides of the meat into the middle until you have something resembling a burger, but still keeping the meat loose. Then, pat it gently with your finger tips using only enough pressure to round it out. Form a slight depression in the center of the patty (about the size of the hole in a donut.) This area will expand when cooking and yield a nice, evenly cooked center. Salt and pepper are the ONLY seasonings you need so you taste the beef without a lot of competing flavors. You can add whatever additional condiments you want once the finished burger is on the bun. Placed the formed burgers in the refrigerator for at least 1/2 hour to chill thoroughly before cooking.

Here are a few additional things you need to remember, whether you are going to grill or pan fry the burgers: First, burgers are best cooked over very high heat (in a pre-heated cast iron pan or on the grill. Start with a well chilled patty to retard cooking the inside while the outside gets browned. Try to develop a nice crust on one side before flipping to the other side. DO NOT, under any circumstances, press on your burger with a spatula! You will drive all the juices out of the meat. When the burger is brown and a crust has developed on both sides, red juices on the surface of the patty indicate a rare, ready-to eat burger. If the juices run clear, the burger is medium-well to well done. To really boost the flavor and juiciness even more, just before you remove the burger from the pan or grill, place a small pat of salted butter on the burger and let it melt into the meat fibers before it goes on the bun. A lightly grilled fresh bun brushed with homemade garlic butter and some grill marks doesn’t hurt, either.

Finally, take your ketchup or mustard out of the fridge and let it come to room temperature. Cold fixin's on your warm burgers will just ruin the taste of the beef and toasted bun. That's it!

Ragin' Rick