The secret to the perfect burger doesn’t need to be discovered, just choose your meat wisely and maintain a balance of flavours, explains Chef Ray Cournede
Like football and (sadly) the Kardashians, the burger, is truly universal. That glorious combination of meat, bread, cheese, sauce and pickles has traveled far and wide. As iconic as any celebrity or politician, and with the same infamous history to prove it, the burger has had its fair share of bad rep too. We’ve all seen Super Size Me, it was the gourmet equivalent of Paris Hilton’s sex tape. Scandalous yes, but we still felt like eating a burger after.
And just like Paris, the burger successfully re-invented itself over the years; healthier, culturally diverse, even gourmet. I won’t mention the Mc-word as it would only bring tears to most Kenyan’s eyes as we patiently wait, but that clown sure knows how to rise from the ashes. And by doing so a whole army of gourmet burger joints and five star chefs followed suit and led us into the light. There IS an art to making the perfect burger, it doesn’t just have to be dubious ingredients that have been over processed and fried to a crisp.
The heart and soul of your burger is the meat. Use great meat for your patty. Why, Oh Why people persist in using cheap off-cuts just because it’s a burger boggles the mind. Ask your butcher to coarsely mince some good quality, well-aged beef cuts like chuck, short rib or rib eye. And if you’re feeling adventurous add some bone marrow. Just remember to keep the fat content between 20% and 40%. Don’t overwork the meat or you will end up with a sausage texture. Size does matter. Make sure your patty is the right size for your bun, and keep in mind that it will shrink while it cooks so make them slightly larger. The finished product should cover the entire bun to the edges. Don’t make it too high either, you should be able to bite into your burger without unhinging your jaw.
When you’re putting the burger together make sure you grill the buns to prevent them getting soggy. Like any dish you want to get it perfectly balanced. It should be sweet and sour, creamy and crunchy, rich and fresh, with a hit of salty, savory meatiness and a hint of smokiness. Make sure your layers are held together, alternate dry and wet ingredients so that it doesn’t fall apart. All your components should be bite-size so that you don’t tear the whole thing apart when you bite into it.
Whatever you do, don’t forget the essence of a burger. It should be casual, easygoing and fun (even when gourmet). Don’t overcomplicate things. Simple ingredients go a long way!