There must be thousands of recipes out there for the perfect hamburger. Bobby Flay has a few hundred on his own! This is my attempt at the perfect burger. In my research for the perfect hamburger, I repeatedly came across some simple pieces of advise, grind your own meat, make a patty about 1 inch thick (certainly no more), cook for about 3 -4 minutes on each side for a medium burger, and don’t over-complicate the toppings. My burgers usually consist of the beef, onion, cheese, bacon, lettuce, tomato, beetroot, and sauce. Not today, today I’m having finely chopped onion, cooked on the grill with the beef patty, a slice of Emmental cheese melted on top, and a rich tomato sauce (not one from the bottle). I will cook some bacon for my wife’s burger, because she will sulk for hours if I don’t, but my burger will not have Bacon… (I feel I’m making a mistake, but I will live by this decision)
The Beef – I’m not going to grind my own beef today, I don’t have a meat grinder, and previous efforts in our little food processor have been less than successful (uneven mince). I bought a premium beef mince, about 460 grams, and have formed 4 patties, about 220 grams each, just under 1 inch thick, I have taken the advice of those in the know, and used my fingers to put a dimple into the patty to reduce shrinkage, and made the patties slightly bigger than the bun. These patties are setting up in the fridge, no salt or pepper yet, that needs to be applied just prior to them hitting the grill. I’ll take them out of the fridge about 30 minutes before cooking.
The Buns – I have also bought 4 sourdough rolls from Fergbaker in Queenstown. Those of you who have been to Queenstown will no doubt have heard of Fergburger, a world famous in Queenstown burger joint. This place has a constant queue of hungry punters waiting for their orders to be delivered, and the burgers are big, and from most people’s accounts, delicious. I’ve lived here for 14 years, and eaten Fergburger twice. IMHO they are OK, and that’s about it (I could be wrong of course). In the last few years, Ferg has opened up a bakery next to the Burger joint, and their baked goods are probably the best in Queenstown, hell Fergbaker are rated the No.1 restaurant in Queenstown on Tripadvisor, whereas Fergburger are only rated No.3 (Tsk Tsk).
The Sauce – I don’t want tomato sauce out of the bottle to go on this burger. I need a deep rich sauce that can stand up to the generous portion of meat and the nutty Emmental cheese. I’ve taken a tin of chopped tomato’s in thick sauce, added a teaspoon of dried oregano, freshly ground black pepper, 1/2 teaspoon of Garlic flakes, and reduced the sauce to almost a paste. Allow it to cool to room temperature before using it. Think Pizza sauce and you are getting close to the texture and flavor I’m after.
Cheese – I could quite easily have used a good aged cheddar, but it can be a bit overpowering, and when it melts, tends to give up some oil which I don’t want dripping from my burger. I’ve chosen an Emmental, a good melting cheese with a nutty hint, which I think will compliment the Sour Dough rolls.
Cooking – I will do these on the BBQ. It’s a Gas grill, it’s what I own, and I don’t need to justify the decision – the word Barbecue is justification enough. I’m using the hotplate, not the grill.
1. Preheat the grill to high – salt and pepper the hamburger patties just prior to cooking. The meat should be at room temperature
2. add some olive oil to the hotplate, and place the patties on the plate, applying pressure with your spatula so the full surface of the meat makes contact with the grill. Cook for 3 – 4 minutes, and flip over, cook for another 2-3 minutes, place cheese on top and continue cooking until cheese has melted, another minute or so.
3. At the same time, add the finely chopped onion to a lightly oiled section of the hotplate and fry for 5 or six minted until lightly browned. Remove.
4. Split your buns, butter both sides and toast lightly on the grill section of the BBQ. Layer with 1/4 onion, Burger Patty, spread a generous layer tomato sauce on the top half of the bun, and place on top of the patty, squash down firmly. Serve with Chili pepper potato wedges. These are medium size hamburgers, but quite filling.
The verdict? This was a really good burger, and I don’t think it would have been improved by anything except some better quality beef. There was nothing wrong with the beef, it was cooked perfectly, but perhaps a little too lean – next time I’ll check what Mr Flay has to say about. The sauce, Cheese, Buns, and onions were great, I had bacon on the side, and tried a little piece with some burger, and actually preferred the taste without the bacon. I doubt you will hear that from me again any time soon.
Here is a link to Bobby’s best burger on the food network website for those interested http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/bobby-flay/perfect-burger-recipe/index.html