The Perfect Hamburger
In 1904, the St Louis World’s Fair called the hamburger “the innovation of a food vendor on the pike.” This meaty sandwich has been served at bars, fine restaurants, steak houses, and kitchens across the world ever since. The greatest sandwich I ever ate was at a hole-in-the-wall in Montreal, Canada. On a cold December Saturday, I trudged through three feet of snow. Looking for a place to warm my toes, I instead found a treasure trove of taste. I’ve tried for years to duplicate it, and here’s the closest I’ve ever gotten.
A Word on Ingredients
Your burger is only as good as what you make it with. Try to buy your meat whole, then grind it yourself whenever possible. Search online for an electric meat grinder (they are surprisingly affordable), or at least ask the butcher at your market to grind a cut of meat for you. Keep in mind that the best cuts to use are typically sirloin and chuck. You should grind these together because you want a fat content somewhere between 15-20%. Experience will tell you which ratio you prefer, but generally I like about 65-75% sirloin and 35-25% chuck, which works out to about a pound and a half of sirloin and a half pound of chuck if you want two pounds of ground meat.
I find organic vegetables are quite flavorful, but your local farmers market will do the trick as well. Veggies are so highly dependent on your area that you may want to consider subbing out the standard lettuce and tomato for other ingredients grown locally.
If you’re a lover of cheese, and who isn’t, you can easily spend the bulk of your money trying to find the best topping. Don’t do this. Fall back on your simple sharp cheddar, or do as the Canadians do and toss a slab of mozzarella on top.
The basic burger looks like this:
· 2 lbs of ground beef (ground as discussed above)
· Veggies (lettuce, tomato, onion, pickle or something seasonal)
· Cheese (preferably mozzarella)
· Your favorite hot sauce
The burger I make has iceberg lettuce, thick sliced tomato, mayonnaise and hot sauce (I prefer cast iron skillet will work; just use a very thin layer of oil to grease the pan. Cook the burger between two to four minutes per side depending on your desired level of rarity. The important thing is to flip the burger once, and only once.
I like toasted buns, but like so much of this recipe, it’s your call. Top with your veggies of choice and serve with a side of barbecued potato wedges and your favorite beer (Unibroue).
Contribution made by: Becky W.