[imagesource: Striped Spatula]
There is no such thing as the ‘perfect’ burger.
For example, you may be a fan of a pineapple ring on your burger, and I would kick you out of the house for such a thing.
Yes, the war on pineapples extends beyond pizza, and you should be using them to make homebrewed beer, anyway.
So, when we say ‘perfect’, we obviously mean tailored towards your own tastes, but there are certain ingredients that you cannot skimp on, and they must be selected and prepared with care.
The Guardian’s Tim Jonze spoke with a number of experts regarding important issues like what bun to use, how to properly sear the meat, and the best cheese to pair it with.
We shall start with what Jonze argues is the most important ingredient, the bun, and he’s backed up by at least one expert:
“Sometimes the bun is more important than the patty,” says Ben Denner from the London-based burger maestros Lucky Chip. “With the bun, it’s about keeping it fresh. If you’re buying from supermarkets then go for soft fluffy burger rolls rather than cheap brioche, which is often dense.”
I’m not sure I agree, but that’s the bun sorted.
Time to talk meat, with input from Honest Burger’s Tom Barton, who, as co-founder, has overseen the rise and rise of the popular British chain:
He is normally a believer in sourcing high-grade meat from your local butcher, but says if you are limited to supermarket shopping just make sure you go for high-fat content – “no lower than 20%” – and aim for about 150g of meat per burger.
Don’t bother adding anything to it, he says, “certainly not salt and pepper. Salt breaks down the structure of the meat and dries it out. Only season the meat when it’s cooking to get that nice salt crust on it.”
Once the meat has a nice crust on it, though, don’t be shy with the seasoning, which ensures that the burger itself isn’t overpowered by the cheese and relish to come.
Given that braais are less fun without mates and booze (both are currently hard to come by around the house), you’ll want to use a flat, non-stick pan that is as hot as possible to cook the meat, and avoid the temptation to use oil.
This way, the fat and flavour are sealed in, with the focus on getting that outside crust perfect.
Damn, just realised how much I miss Café Caprice and their burgers. Free-range beef, crispy bacon, cheddar, chilli oil and onion rings – The Royal is calling my name.
Who knows when we’ll be allowed to sit down and dine again, but if their two-for-one Tuesday special is still going I’m ordering The Royal and The Dreamy Burger and I’m eating both.
Great, now I’m salivating.
Back to Jonze, and the important matter of cheese. You’ll be hard-pressed to find one that doesn’t taste good on a burger, but again, it’s all about technique:
Put the cheese on your burger while it’s in the pan to melt it. If your pan has a lid then whack that on, too, and consider putting the bun top in right at the end. “It will keep the moisture in,” says Denner. “You want it to be soft, like you’re biting into a cloud.”
We’re going to have to wrap things up in a hurry because I’m close to ravenous.
Other expert tips include using dry-cured, smoked streaky bacon, and putting the pickles under the meat, but you can read more on that here.
Yes, there are vegetarian options, too, so don’t feel left out.
May your lockdown burger hit the spot.
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