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Old 08-05-2009, 01:06 PM   #1
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Default The perfect burger

Strange how sometimes the simplest things get screwed up so badly. We've all had burgers at a friends/family/neighbors house and it's often either a dried out meatball half the diameter of the bun or it's frozen patties that are dense/dry...and concave. Levels of char are all over the place.

The devil is in the details as they say.

So what are your keys to the perfect burger?

Mine are:
Not too big, not too small...between 5-6 oz. is perfect imo (5.3 oz. is 1/3#).
80/20 chuck is my go-to...not much leaner than that imo. Never frozen.
Make the patties by hand and don't over-handle/compress the meat.
Make the patties slightly bigger diameter than the buns and make them flat with a very slight dimple in the middle.
High heat grill*...medium to medium-well (true medium-well still has a tiny sliver of pink in the middle). Char should be mostly just the grill marks.
Season with salt and pepper while on the grill (after you flip it)...no garlic powder or Dales/etc.
Only flip once...and don't compress with the spatula. If you need to compress it you didn't make the patties right to begin with (that's what the dimple is for).
Cheese (usually non-smoked Provolone for me) goes on the instant they come off the grill (not a big deal but I NEVER want liquified cheese on my burger).

* - seared on a flattop or in an iron skillet is good too.

Then for me...the order in which you stack it makes a huge difference. Starting from the bottom bun and building upwards:

Bottom bun
light layer of mayo...real mayo
shredded lettuce with diced onions mixed in (mixture lightly seasoned with salt/pepper)
Thin tomato slice(s) (lightly seasoned w/ salt/pepper)
Burger patty
cheese
ketchup
sometimes mustard depending on my mood
top bun

I guess I never realized I'm so anal about burgers. Can't wait for dinner.

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Old 08-05-2009, 01:24 PM   #2
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Not bad...but I like mine better

1/3# burger (I agree 100% with slightly larger burger than bun w/ dimple in the middle before grilling)
90/10 sirloin but I add the fat back using bacon fat instead. About 2 tablepoons per #
The other thing I do is make a mash of 1 slice of white bread per # with crusts removed and enough milk to cover. Mash it up for a minute then squeeze the milk out and mix the bread mush into the beef.
Salt and pepper in the mix then I dust both sides of the patties w/ fresh pepper again.
Medium/Medium Well in a toasted bun with sharp cheddar cheese and its perfect.

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Old 08-05-2009, 01:33 PM   #3
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Quote:
90/10 sirloin but I add the fat back using bacon fat instead.
Interesting...sounds great. I always have bacon grease on-hand.
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Old 08-05-2009, 01:36 PM   #4
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The burger...

The beef we get is from a local farmer and it's a mixture of whatever we didn't want cut into steaks or roasts so I have no idea of the fat content but it's DAMN good. We get the beef in 1lb. packages so I usually weigh off 1/4lb. for the wife because that's all she wants and then split the remaining 3/4lb. in two for myself, one for that night and one for later.
Before I do the separating I mix up the beef in a bowl with salt and pepper, good beef needs nothing else.
Next I make my patties and let them sit while I go fire up a chimney full of charcoal.
Once the grill's good and hot toss on the burgers, 1-2 minutes on one side over direct heat, flip, 1-2 minutes on the other side over direct heat and then slide them off to the side and throw on the lid.
In 6-8 minutes my burgers are a nice med-med rare so they come off.
In another 3-4 minutes the wife's are well done (burnt in my opinion but that's a whole other story) so they come off.
All burgers get covered in foil as they come off the grill to rest.

The build....

Toasted bottom bun.
Mayo & mustard
Thin sliced onions
Thin sliced tomatoes
Burger
Pickles
Ketchup
Toasted top bun

When I'm eating out I'll take cheese on my burger but when I'm eating in I don't care for it. For me it seems to smother the other flavors and I when I just grilled the perfect burger I don't want anything to interfere with it.

One time we discovered after the meat had already hit the heat that our buns were moldy so we had to use bread. The bread was toasted and I used all the same toppings and the net result, a juicy burger sandwiched between two thin, crunchy pieces of bread, was really good. I've been meaning to do it again, on purpose this time, but we keep remembering to buy buns.

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Old 08-05-2009, 01:37 PM   #5
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Quote:
Interesting...sounds great. I always have bacon grease on-hand.
Yeah I try to add it back almost 1:1 from the beef fat I cut out. 80/20 to 90/10 = 10% less fat or 1.6 oz/lb. 2 tablespoons = about 1 oz. That works for me but YMMV.
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Old 08-05-2009, 01:41 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by Turkeyfoot Jr. View Post
The bread was toasted and I used all the same toppings and the net result, a juicy burger sandwiched between two thin, crunchy pieces of bread, was really good. I've been meaning to do it again, on purpose this time, but we keep remembering to buy buns.
What you've got there sir is a patty melt. And I agree they're damn good.
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Old 08-05-2009, 01:52 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by johnnyc View Post
What you've got there sir is a patty melt. And I agree they're damn good.
I wouldn't call it a patty melt exactly. I've had them and I do enjoy them but to be a patty melt it's got to have cheese and caramelized onions....and mushrooms but that's just me.
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Old 08-05-2009, 02:06 PM   #8
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Stop! STOP! You people are killing me! I am going to be grilling myself a burger in a minute if you don't stop!

Paul the Nurse was talking about grilling a peppercorn crusted burger last night or the night before... I was thinking that sounded good then... kind of a Burger version of steak au poivre...great scott! I almost bought a case of the red wine he was drinking with it it sounded so good.

I just got on a kick eating burgers with wickles brand relish... their red stuff. Fabulous... just hot enough, but not too hot.

The other thing we love is mixing our rib rub into some burgers. My favorite beef is from the processor like TurkeyFoot... pretty lean, but really REALY good!

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Old 08-05-2009, 02:09 PM   #9
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The biggest key to the perfect burger is grinding your own meat.

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Old 08-05-2009, 02:10 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by chefmike View Post
Stop! STOP! You people are killing me! I am going to be grilling myself a burger in a minute if you don't stop!
No kidding...I'm sitting here trying to figure out how I could possibly quick thaw some beef and grill up a burger...all within my 1 hour lunch break.
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