Thursday, January 27th, 2011
Last weekend I had the honor to celebrate my own birth. During the whole saturday I was busy with the task to find the perfect ingredients for THE PERFECT BURGER. You may think that the goal was set a bit high, but would you prefer to make the second best burger? No.
My grandparents gave me their meat grinder a while ago and I was always willing to use it for several weeks now. Last sunday was the perfect date. Saturday I went to several special shops, which you can find listed below. I did some massive research for the burgers. Mostly I chose ressources from gourmet.com and nytimes.com. I even watched videos, listened to interviews with professionals and studied the anatomy of a cow. I will also list all my ressources below.
I chose to make every part of the burger myself. The bun, the patty, the mayonnaise, the ketchup. The only thing I bought was the cheese. I wasn’t able to produce my own cheddar. Every ingredient I bought was either local or organic and mostly from venders, who knew what they were selling.
It started with the ketchup on Saturday. I bought the ingredients and mixed them together. It all simmered for several hours and had time to develop its aroma over night. The time I first tasted the ketchup I thought it was very sour. But then I also tasted the original Heinz ketchup (in my opinion the only ketchup) and pure it tasted pretty sour as well. But in combination with something it was tasty.
- 1 (28-oz) can whole tomatoes in purée
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 2/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
- 1/2 cup cider vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
On Sunday I started to prepare the dough for the buns. The recipe was for Light Brioche Buns.
- 3 tablespoons warm milk
- 2 teaspoons active dry yeast
- 2 1/2 tablespoons sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 3 cups bread flour
- 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 2 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
After the dough rised for two hours I brushed the buns with some egg and baked them in the oven for 15 minutes. The result was amazing.
It was time for the mayonnaise. Making your own mayonnaise is pretty tricky, it takes time and if you don’t school yourself to patience, you mess it up very fast. But this time I came up with a great idea. I used an plastic syringe to slip the oil into the egg. It was perfectly easy. I used high quality olive oil, it tasted great but the next time I will just use plain vegetable oil.
- 1 large egg yolk, at room temperature 30 minutes
- 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 3/4 cup olive or vegetable oil (or a combination), divided
- 1 teaspoon white-wine vinegar or cider vinegar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
- 1/4 teaspoon white pepper
For a long time now I only buy good cheese at the Käse-Ecke. It is a small store with mostly organic groceries. I took an Englsih Farmhouse Cheddar. It was salty and flavorful, but not so tangy that it would overlay the rest of the burger’s flavor.
And then it was time for the most important thing the patties. I went to a high class butcher in Hamburg, Beisser. It was quite tough to find the perfect combination of meat. Most of the professionals recommended a mixture of 70% meat and 30% fat. The butcher wasn’t able to offer me some beef with that amount of fat, so we decided to combine the chuck tenderloin with some pork, which contains enough fat. And fat is very important for the flavor.
The result was delicious, juicy, mouth-watering, tasty, flavorful – one of the best dishes I ever made. Grinding my own meat was a great idea. And the combination with the buns is truly a delight. I don’t know if I will make my own ketchup and mayonnaise again, but I definitively will never make a burger at home with supermarkt hash, and sticky buns.
A hint: before you add the cheese on the patties, give some butter on top. It will give another tasty flavor to the meat.
Eric Rippert – My Quest to Build the Perfect Burger
Francis Lam – Anatomy of a Burger
James Beard – Hamburgers, Diary of a foodie
Jane Sigal – Elements of an Ideal Burger
Jane Sigal - The Perfect Burger and All Its Parts
NPR & Adam Perry Lang – How To Make The Perfect Burger
Wikipedia – Hamburger
Mark Bittman – For the Love of a Good Burger
Ian Knauer - The Ultimate Burger
Ian Knauer – A Burger with (homemade) Everything
Peter Meehan – Grass Fed | Homeburgers (The article, which influenced me at most)
You can find some more photos on my flickr set: Burger.