Ever watched cartoon characters eat a burger? You know that perfect bite when they chomp into it and you wish all food was cartoon food. I'm not saying these are cartoon burgers but they're pretty close! Different elements make up this awesome burger which I'll outline in this blog. However what makes a good burger a great burger is the quality of ingredients. You don't need to be all organic and "granola" about it, but be mindful of the ingredients you're putting together and seek out the best you can.
Starting with the bun. It should be soft, not sugary and has some integrity so it doesn't just fall apart when sandwiching a bit of meat.
Moving onto the bacon, if you're using it. It must be smoked bacon. Remember, not all bacon is smoked. Some are cured by other means. Those you should avoid. In Australia, you'll find what they call "streaky bacon". This is the ideal bacon cut for burgers. Take your time with cooking this. Don't add oil to the pan when you're frying this as enough fat will come out of the bacon. Use medium heat and let is crisp up good.
Last but not least the beef. In the past we'd always use store bought mince. Those days are over. We now buy rump steaks and hand mince them. This way, you know what meat is actually in your mince (not offal, bones and cardboard). Remember to include a good ratio of fat to meat (20/80 is ideal). I find rump is a great cut, well priced with good fat ratio. And I hear you asking, "how do you hand mince meat". You don't need a meat grinder. You simply cut the meat fine. I also suggest separating the meat with the fat and cut those up separately then mix it together afterwards. Be sure not to overwork the meat, as in handle it too much. I truly believe home, hand minced beef is the secret to a great burger.
Other ingredients to consider include slowly sauteed onions and mushrooms. Opt for cos lettuce if you can. It has more of a crunch and less water content. Pick a melty cheese. Jack, colby or cheddar are good options.
I'm not going to outline every single step in assembling a burger as everyone has their own "style". Below is a recipe to flavouring of the patty and a few tips we've learnt. Note, the quantities are rough and largely "free pour". So trial and error with your flavours. Add more if you like more flavour, add less if you want to keep it simple.
Patty mix Ingredients
~500g Hand mince beef
1/4 to 1/3 cup breadcrumbs
~ 2 Tbpsn tomato sauce/ketchup
~ 2 Tbpsn worcestershire sauce
~ 2 tspn dried (or fresh) parsley, (sometimes I put oregano and minced garlic too).
~ 1 tspn salt
pepper to desired quantities
Mix all the above mentioned ingredients together in a large bowl until just combined. Allow to rest and flavours mature. Cover and leave overnight in the fridge or set aside for a few hours.
Portion patties appropriate size to the buns. Roll in balls then flatten. Following my visit to the twin cities of Minneapolis and St Paul, I "juicy lucy" -'ed these patties. I put a little piece of cheese in the middle of the patty before frying it.
Fry in a well greased, pan on medium to medium high heat. Tip here is to only flip once. When you flip, you can melt a slice of cheese while the patty is frying on the other side. Another tip: lately we've been frying the bacon first, then cooking the patties in the bacon fat. This definitely adds extra flavour. You could also BBQ the patties for that nice char-grilled flavour.
Construct burger, eat and enjoy!