How to make a proper burger is one of the great debates in cooking. I've cooked hundreds of burgers in my life and tasted many more.
While there is so much information from what cut of meat to use to the right percentage of fat to include to what is the correct doneness (medium-rare of course). All this discussion only causes confusion when all you need are a few simple tips to ensure that you can enjoy one of the greatest culinary inventions.
1. 20 to 25 percent, that is the range you should stay in for a burger's fat content. Any less and you'll end up with a dry burger. Any more and you'll have a burger than can barely hold together.
2. Handle the meat with care. This isn't a meatloaf, so don't jam that meat together. The less you handle that meat, the tenderer it will be.
3. Season with salt and pepper. That is it! If you're using good meat, there is no need to mess with it. Keep it simple.
4. Keep that meat cold. Not only will you get a better sear, but you're less likely to overcook it.
5. Toast that bun. Believe me, it makes a difference. Now bite in and get messy.
To learn more, read "Achieve Burger Domination."
TT Burger with Macerated Onions and Secret Sauce
Recipe from the Tasting Table Test Kitchen
Yield: 4 burgers
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 7 minutes
Total Time: 37 minutes
For the Sauce:
⅓ cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon ketchup
1 tablespoon finely chopped bread-and-butter pickles
⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper
⅛ teaspoon sweet paprika
For the Burger:
8 ounces ground beef chuck
8 ounces ground beef short rib
8 ounces ground sirloin
½ red onion, thinly sliced lengthwise
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
Salt and pepper, to taste
¼ cup vegetable oil
4 thick slices aged white cheddar
4 burger buns, toasted
4 thick slices beefsteak tomato
1. Make the sauce: In a small mixing bowl, combine all ingredients and stir until combined. Put the sauce in the refrigerator until ready to use.
2. Make the burger: In a large mixing bowl, carefully break the chuck, sirloin and short rib apart using your hands. Gently toss together all three cuts to create a blend. Transfer the meat to a plastic cutting board and divide into 4 equal portions, about 6 ounces each. To form patties, take one portion and gently pat the meat flat using the palm of your hand until the patty is ¾-inch thick. Cup the patty using the interior of your hand between your index finger and thumb without lifting the patty from the cutting board. Using your other thumb, make a small imprint in the center of the patty. Repeat with the remaining patties and transfer them to refrigerator to chill, about 15 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, in a small mixing bowl, combine the onions and vinegar. Season with salt and allow the onions to macerate until they have softened, about 15 minutes. Set aside until ready to use.
4. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat the oil until it's hot. Season the patties aggressively with salt and pepper and transfer to the skillet and cook until lightly charred, about 3 to 4 minutes. Using a metal spatula, flip the patties and cook for an additional 2 minutes for medium-rare, then place a cheese slice on each patty. Cover the pan with a lid and cook until the cheese has melted, about 1 minute. Transfer the patties to a cutting board and let them rest for a few minutes so that the juices can redistribute.
5. To serve the burger, generously spread sauce on both sides of the burger bun. Place the burger meat on the bottom bun, then top with the macerated onions, lettuce, tomato and bun top. Repeat with the remaining burgers and serve.