Ah, summer! Tis the season of long, sun-soaked days, lazy afternoons beside the water (book and cool drink in hand) and then, as the sun starts to dip and the kids gather, the unmistakably Kiwi summer scent of charcoal wafting on the breeze.
A great burger really is a thing of beauty: dress it up or down, feed a few or a crowd, make them as frugal or as 'bougie' as you like, the choice is yours. Regardless of what you're cooking and who you're cooking it for, there are some basic rules which practically guarantee a great burger.
Choose your burger meat carefully - avoid anything too lean, an 80/20 lean meat to fat ratio is ideal for succulence and flavour. Even better grind your own - we always use a good chuck steak (and this is when it pays off when you've made friends with your local butcher as they'll always be able to tell you what's good). And often we'll go 50/50 beef to pork mince which gives fab flavour as the pork mince adds extra fat (which keeps patties succulent even over a hot flame).
Seasoning can be as simple as adding a dash of salt and pepper (and, frankly, they're essential). Don't be afraid to ring the changes though; fresh herbs, spices, garlic and/or mustard can all amp flavour. As does a judicious dash of umami - Worchester. soy or even a tiny dash of fish sauce will add an intriguing and savoury complexity. We tend to stay away from onion as it can char on the outside but this is a classic case of 'you do you' - if you like onion, go for it! And mix your seasonings through gently but thoroughly - take your time.
Shape your patties, with wet hands by gently forming them into loose balls then squashing them flat (or use a pattie shaper). Rough handling can result in tough, dry burgers. We like our patties to weigh about 150-200g (raw weight). Once your pattie is flattened, make an indentation in the middle to prevent it from puffing up in the middle as it cooks.
Cook your burgers on the bbq (gas or charcoal, medium heat, oiled grills) or using your trusty Lodge cast iron skillet (great for all weather grilling which, let's be honest, we often need during a classic Kiwi summer!)
Take your time heating your preseasoned skillet to a good, medium/high heat then add a very thin coating of a high heat oil (rice bran, grape seed, avocado are some of our faves - never olive) and swirl it around the pan. Gently lay your patties in the pan and then leave them to sear. Cook for 3-4 mins each side for medium rare, 4-5 mins for medium - or until done to your liking. Top with sliced cheese once you've turned your patty the first time so that the cheese melts as the second side cooks.
We love our buns toasted but fresh is too good. Add your choice of sauces to your split buns, top with a pattie, salad and pickle fixings bacon or an egg and more sauce, and devour.
Remember food safety. Work especially quickly with raw minced meat. Keep burgers well chilled (no higher than 4C) until you're ready to cook. And once dinner is over, get leftovers away into the fridge immediately. And keep your hands clean always.
By following our tips, you're well on your way to cooking the perfect burger. Attention to just a few details will take your burgers from lacklustre to grilled excellence.
- Tags: how-to