The hamburger may well have European origins, but it took the Americans to see the potential of this “companionable and faintly erotic” chunk of seasoned beef as comfort food extraordinaire; the personification of “the Great Mother herself … the nipple of the Goddess, the beautiful belly-ball of Eve” as Tom Robbins so neatly puts it.
Even if you tuck into cheese and caviar every weekend, I bet the scent of grilling burgers still gets you all around the the BBQ. It’s that primal, charred, slightly crunchy exterior, the soft, juiciness within – and of course, that perfect combination of topping, chosen in childhood and sacred ever after.
Burgers may be fast food, but they’re also a craft. There are clubs devoted to the cult of the perfect party, endless articles devoted to the 20 examples you must “try before you die”and every month, a new, and usually outlandish variation on the theme, from 200 gram hunks of foie gras to doughnut buns. But I am interested in taking the burger back to basics, with a classic beef number suitable for cooking on the barbecue, or a hot griddle pan.
After a little experimentation, I realised that there is no place for lean, or finely ground beef in a burger – both produce a dry, crumbly patty unworthy of the name. The best formula in my view would be like 40% fat, YES truly that much – otherwise it would not be moist!
Although you’ll probably struggle to find that high a fat content, avoid anything marked as lean, prime steak cuts like rump; I recommend a 2:1:1 combination of chuck, short rib and brisket, but in my experience, plain old chuck will do nicely. Ideally of course, you would mince your beef yourself, but, if you have neither the time, nor the appropriate food processor attachment, then ask your butcher to do it for you, a course mince gives the best texture.
THE PURE BURGER
In its simplest form, the burger is nothing but minced beef and seasoning. Don from Master Butchers Whitsunday, (The Sausage King) wanted something different for these Dry Aged burgers, so we came up with a recipe, we caramelised onions, shallots, garlic, palm sugar for two hours, then added them to our minced Dry Aged Beef, and a winner we ended up with. They are juicy and full of life, and do not take my word for it get down to the butchers and try some and let us know what you think!
I took them home and cooked them on the Barbie, added our own little touches to them and it was heaven, biting into it. They are completely gluten free and preservative free, this is great for all of the gluten free people out there. But in my view it has to have the good old bun to go with it, but for all you GF people, just toast some GF bread and you will be able to have these beauties.
What goes into your perfect hamburger, and what goes on top, I would leave that up to you. Is beef still the best for burgers, and where serves the best in the world?
Master Butchers Whitsunday
42 Stewart Dr, Cannonvale QLD 4802 Phone 07 4946 6753
RENT MY BRAIN…THE SOLUTION