Cooking

Life of the Patty

What goes into the perfect burger patty? Whatever you want

Truth: The only thing great ground meat needs is a generous sprinkle of salt, well mixed into the meat. But here at Tasting Table, we enjoy playing with our food. So when it comes to making burgers, we like to shake in a little bit of this and a lot of that.

Here are a few not-so-secret weapons you can bring to the burger party to up your game:

Umami
Instead of salt, a spoonful of miso adds a sweet touch of funk, especially valuable if you're not splurging on dry-aged meat. Worcestershire sauce can do the same. (Thai- and Vietnamese-style fish sauce can be aggressively funky, but if you're going to serve your burgers with a big squirt of Sriracha, hey, why not.)

Spice
Go easy. The main thing you want to taste here is the meat, but don't be afraid to introduce a little Spanish-style sweet smoked paprika or, say, some toasted and ground cumin and coriander seeds.

Texture
Crispy bacon, chopped up. Whatever cheese you've got in the fridge--from gruyère to feta--will work. Caramelized red onions, folded into the mix.

Herbs
Finely chopped scallions add a little pungency, freshness and crunch. Softer raw herbs--like a fancy little chiffonade of mint--are a natural partner with ground lamb. When in doubt: Flat leaf parsley never hurt anyone. Got lovage? Love it.

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