What are the ultimate burger ingredients?
Whatever you do with your burger it is important to remember that it is just that, your burger. You may decide to top it with mashed banana and freshly chopped coconut. If that is your thing and a flavour combination that you think works amazingly then go for it.
We will put together a road map for you here which is based on how we put our burgers together.
Ok so let’s go with our signature burger The Filthy Mac, this burger gives us a great canvas to describe how you can build your own ultimate burger experience.
First and foremost it is a burger and therefore the focus should be on the meat. We come across so many burger experiences that are covered in this sauce, this mayo and lashings of “gooiness” which not only make the thing impossible to eat but also completely drown out the flavour of the main event, the burger, the patty, the actual meat.
The favoured meat to grind or mince is braising steak or in the US it is called Chuck Steak. In our experience the crucial thing is getting your fat to lean ratio right. Too much lean and your burger will be dry and fall apart when being cooked, too much fat and your burger will be greasy. It is also for this reason that we do not recommend mincing or grinding expensive cuts of meat such as sirloin or even fillet to make your burgers, there is simply not enough fat content in the meat. Through extensive research we believe that 80% lean and 20% fat is the perfect combo. Go and talk to your friendly local butcher who I am sure will be happy to make a batch up for you.
Now we have the perfect meat blended in the perfect fat to lean ratio, we next have to learn how to cook it the perfect way. If you buy a fresh burger off the shelf it will be round and pressed (this is the key problem) flat. When you put the burger on the grill or barbecue the heat will cause the fat to render or melt. As the burger has been pressed the only place the fat can go once it has melted is out of the burger as there are no air pockets in the burger because it has been mechanically pressed. You will see the fat appearing in your pan or spitting on the grill, a clear indication that the vital ingredient to the ultimate burger is running away. In 2007 in Denver Colorado a technique for cooking burgers known as “smashing” was popularised by a gentleman called Tom Ryan. This technique involved taking a ball of minced beef and pressing it flat onto the griddle to create a very thin patty. The idea was to speed up the cooking process to produce freshly cooked burgers faster whilst at the same time creating a crispy outer texture to the burger. We have taken part of this process and developed the principle. We take 4oz of our meat and loosely form a ball which we place on a hot griddle, we then “smash” the burger but not as flat as the originators intended. We lightly press the ball so that it looks more like a burger in order to create air pockets for the fat to render into once the cooking process starts. By retaining this fat content within the burger structure, you make a very succulent, juicy burger which retains all of the intended flavour. Once the burger has been “smashed” into shape it is important to season it. We recommend ground sea salt and ground black pepper. Be generous with your seasoning most people are shy when it comes to this stage.
How long you cook your burger for will depend on how you like your beef cooked. We would not recommend eating your burger rare as the fat content will not have had a chance to integrate however if you like your burger pink then flip the burger after a minute and season again and cook the second side for a minute. If you like your burger medium, then repeat the process (without the seasoning) for a further minute on each side.
So that is the headline act but to create the ultimate burger your patty will need support.
The Bun – we are lucky enough to be able to use hand crafted brioche which allows us to consistently produce a superb burger time and time again. If you are not able to access hand crafted buns, then there is a good choice of brioche available in most supermarkets and grocery stores. The most important thing is to lightly butter the brioche and then toast the inside. The toasting of the bun will stop the brioche absorbing a lot of the juices from the burger and going soggy. This is important as it is the brioche that will hold the burger structure in place and allow you to enjoy every mouthful to the very last.
The Cheese – there are lots of cheeses which you can buy pre-sliced nowadays which opens up your options for the perfect cheese for your burger. The choice of course is yours, but we would recommend you try the cheese in its raw state before you introduce it to any burger. I know it sounds obvious but, your cheese needs to taste of something. So many do not. We use an Applewood Smoked cheese on our Filthy Mac because we feel it complements the other parts of the burger perfectly.
Your Mayo or Ketchup – beware with this one. You will see pictures online that are 8 stacks high with an abundance of different coloured sauces. The burger itself is impossible to eat and the sauce will undoubtedly soak into the cheap brioche that the burger sits on and cause it to fall apart leaving you with a mess on your plate and not the culinary experience you had intended. The purpose of the sauce is to give complementary flavours and to add a little moisture to aid digestion. Does mayo work? Absolutely. Does Ketchup work? Of course, but not too much as it contains a lot of sugars, sweeteners and vinegar which can drown out your burger. Does American Mustard work? Most definitely. A Filthy Mac has our own Smoked Barbecue Mayo on the top and the bottom brioche.
Other stuff – here you can fill your boots and again it is a very personal choice. Bacon is always a firm favourite. We would recommend using streaky so that it adds rather than dominates. We recommend that you use dry cured, as wet cured has a much higher water content and takes a lot longer to crisp up. Something from the onion family, grilled onions, onion rings, sauteed onions or even pickled onions. A little Pickled Cucumber, Cornichon or Gherkin always adds a nice tang. A piece of crispy lettuce and a good slice of tomato is a must to help with your 5 a day. For the Filthy Mac we chose Caramelised Onion, Black Pudding and Smoked Streaky Bacon.
The Build – before you start to build your burger make sure you have everything you need to hand. It would be a disaster to have meat going cold whilst you go in search of the mayo which is buried at the back of the fridge somewhere. Ok everything is ready to go:
- Add your sauce to the inside of your toasted brioche, top and bottom.
- On the base of your brioche put on your washed lettuce leaf and slice of tomato.
- Next put on the burger.
- Then the Bacon, if you are using Bacon.
- Then the Black Pudding, if you are using Black Pudding.
- Then your onion and finally the cheese.
- You then cap your burger with the top brioche.
You are now ready to rock ‘n’roll and take a bite of that beautiful creation that you designed, developed, cooked and built yourself.