Good burgers are what we dream of: a perfectly cooked and seasoned patty sandwiched between a solid bun, the gravy of the meat making a delicious mess and memories of summer barbecues bringing a subtle note of nostalgia. Whether you like your burger topped with a few classic ingredients or prefer to be more experimental, when it comes to making a good burger you need to master the basics, especially the all-important patty. To help us out, HuffPost asked industry experts to share their top tips.
For ground beef, a meat-to-fat ratio of 80-20 is ideal.
Experts interviewed for this story differed in the cuts of beef they like to use, but they agreed on the 80-20 ratio for ground beef in order to get the right balance of moisture and flavor. .
“It’s imperative that the meat has a good ratio of fat content in the grind,” Terry Chandler, outlaw chef at Fred’s Texas Café in Fort Worth, Texas, told HuffPost. “You don’t want anything leaner than 20% no less fat and the meat will be dry and shatter in your mouth as you eat it. The truth is, there is more beef flavor in cheaper cuts of meat, like chuck or brisket, than the more select, more expensive cuts.
Chandler explained that fat and collagen contribute the most to the flavor of beef, and while the tastiest cuts get their flavor from the fat content (often referred to as marbling), the chuck contains a high percentage of collagen and fat. “When ground in a burger, all of the collagen and fat is mixed with the lean muscle to deliver that wonderful taste that you are looking for in a burger,” Chandler said.
Beef ratios and cuts aside, Anya Fernald, co-founder and CEO of Belcampo, stressed the importance of sourcing ground beef from reputable suppliers who put human health and the environment first. “I think chefs have relied on claims about all the different cuts they use to hide the bigger question of where meat comes from,” Fernald said. “A lot of people make expensive burgers out of cheap meat and say what cuts are there to distract people from this basic problem.”
The size of the patties will vary depending on the cooking surface you are using.
The size recommendations also differ depending on which chef you request, ranging from as small as 4 ounces (“anything more can be too big for the bun,” explained Ashley Abodeely, executive chef of the Firehouse Hotel in Los Angeles. , explained) to 10 ounces (recommended by Chandler – everything is bigger in Texas, right?).
“When you cook a la plancha or a la plancha [at a lower heat], I don’t use more than four ounces of beef, ”said Alvin Cailan, chef at The Usual in New York City. “For the grill, I like a 6 to 8 ounce patty, so the outside is nice and seared and the inside is perfectly pink and juicy. When frying, I like a 7 oz beef patty. It holds up well to high heat and is difficult to overbake due to its thickness.
When forming the patty, avoid overworking the mixture and use refrigerated meat.
Less is more when it comes to shaping burger patties. “If I’m at home, I just take a billiard ball-sized ball of meat and gently flatten it,” said Adam Biderman, chef / owner of The Company Burger in New Orleans. “Don’t get it too dirty because you want to keep it loose, so that it stays juicy when it cooks.”
Working with refrigerated meat will keep you from overworking it. “When forming the patty, the colder the meat, the easier it is to work with and the patties stay together better,” Chandler said. “I knead the meat a bit like bread to stick it together, then shape it into a ball before flattening it into a patty using my hands to keep the edges smooth.”
Do not season the beef before forming the patties.
“Do not season the meat before forming the patties; the results will become dense like hockey pucks! said Caïlan. This is the kind of mistake that when cooked will make your burgers look like meatloaf – not ideal.
“The salt or seasoning will pull the moisture out of the meat and the meat will stick like glue,” he explained.
When it comes time to season, don’t hold back. “Always avoid under-seasoning burgers ”, Matthew Hyland, chef and co-founder of Emilie and Emmy squared restaurants in New York City, HuffPost said. “You can’t salt the inside of a burger, so make sure you salt the outside heavily. Hamburger juices also remove some of the salt.
Create a hard grab to lock in flavors and add texture.
“No matter how it’s cooked (open barbecue or griddle), searing the outside while keeping the color inside is the only way to taste the meat,” Pat LaFrieda, CEO of Meat Suppliers Pat LaFrieda, mentionned.
The third generation butcher recommended using high heat and a shorter cooking time. “I like to cook at 500 degrees Fahrenheit for 1 inch thick burgers,” LaFrieda said. “It makes me feel and doesn’t overcook the burger.” To determine when to put the burgers on your cooking surface, LaFrieda recommended using a surface heat thermometer. If you don’t have one, wait until the grill is hot enough for the water to sizzle as it falls on the surface.
Flip once, and only when the burger is ready to be flipped.
“The number one mistake I see is people pushing the burger around the pan and trying to turn it over before it’s ready,” Fernald said. “Your burger must be turned once; you should be able to push it lightly with your spatula to check if it has come loose from the bottom of the pan and if it is ready to flip. If you scratch it while trying to flip it, it’s not ready yet. She recommended cooking the burgers in a very hot cast iron or stainless steel pan for best results.
Another indication it’s time to flip is “when you see the edges of the patty just starting to shrink a bit,” Biderman said. “The burgers will shrink a bit as the fat surrenders and the proteins denature. “
Hyland is another supporter of the single flip – a crucial move that results in a satisfying grip. “I think you get a better crust on the outside of the burger with the extended surface contact instead of frequently flipping and losing heat on either side,” he said.
For those making burgers on a grill, Chandler recommended waiting for the patty to release “because raw meat sticks when initially placed on the hot grill.” He added, “Place the patties on the grill gently, so the meat is not forced between the grates, and for heaven’s sake, never press the patty while on the grill.”
Don’t spend too much time on the hottest part of the grill.
At the Firehouse Hotel, Abodeely cooks burgers on a wood-burning grill first on high “to quickly seal the juices on both sides,” then at a lower temperature before removing from the heat and allowing the meat to rest. “I’m always surprised how quickly burgers can overcook,” said Abodeely. “Cooking hamburgers at too high a temperature is a common mistake.”
Cailan takes a similar approach, but cooks on the hot end of the grill at the end rather than the beginning. “Cook on the hottest side of the grill until you reach an internal temperature of 118 degrees Fahrenheit, then finish cooking on the hottest part of the grill for 30 seconds on each side,” Cailan said.