Doing burgers this way did make me realise is that much of the enjoyment of a burger does actually come from the bun. Burgers and buns are like the lone ranger and tonto. They go together, and neither would be complete without t’other. Here’s a recipe for burger buns
Burgers, when you really think about it, are just hunks of minced beef whopped together with some seasoning that have been grilled. Easy enough to do, but not that easy to do well. We’ve all probably had that bargain basement burger, that looks like a bit of shoe leather and tastes a bit like it too. Even if all you did when home making burgers was get good quality mince, I assure you, it’ll taste a lot better than shop bought processed pfaff.
I also asked myself the question of how much a good quality homemade burger would cost to make? Are we really paying THAT much for processed food?
500g of minced steak (not minced beef, I wanted the quality stuff) – £4.50
1 onion Thinly sliced – 13p
1 tbsp of horseradish – 10p
2 tsp salt – 1p
Total cost £4.74 vs £3.75 for 5 Sainsbury’s taste the difference burgers of similar weight.
As I’m not the greatest of cooks, I thought I would use minced steak here rather than your bog standard minced beef. It’s surprising how much better a cook you seem if you just use good ingredients. Take the mince out of the fridge about an hour before you start prep, you’ll want it at room temperature so it cooks more evenly.
All I did was throw the mince, salt and horseradish (or you can substitute any of your own seasonings here) into a bowl and mix it up with my hands. There aren’t any rules here. I know people Who throw in paprika, Worcestershire sauce, garlic, tomato ketchup, you name it, if it tastes good to you, it’s a burger seasoning.
Once you’ve munged it up and mixed it together, let it sit for an hour or two to let the flavours infuse. Then, roll he mince into a log. It’ll be much easier to divide up evenly. This is very important for cooking, because then all of your burgers will finish cooking at around the same time. So, using a very sharp knife, cut the log into five patties as equal as you can make them. That’s roughly 100g of meat per burger, but you can vary this as you wish.
Now squidge each patty with your hands until it feels like its going to stay together when you cook it. I don’t use any binding agents like egg because I’ve never found they worked well for me. Just brute force and ignorance is needed here, keep squidging it together until it develops some structural integrity. Good mince helps.
The way I get my burger to stay in one piece is by using the maillard reaction. Get a good non stick pan really hot and add a smattering of oil. Put the patties in, and use the 15 second flip technique. You’ll have to keep working quite quickly for a few minutes. The Maillard reaction gets you a crust on the outside of the burger, and it should stay together in the pan thereafter so long as it doesn’t stick. After two to three minutes the burgers should have some structural integrity and that’s when I turn the heat down to medium and add the onions so they can cook in the juices that have inevitably flowed out of the meat.
Now, if all your patties are about the same size, you can select what I call “the sacrifice”. Pick one and cut into it. You can use this to check how cooked the burgers are. It’ll mean mangling one, but it’ll also mean that the rest end up cooked right. If they’re all the same size they’ll all be more or less at the same stage of cooking. You’ll want to take them off when they’re a little less cooked when you like because of the thermal inertia. They’ll continue to heat up and cook even after you take them of the heat, so a well done in the pan will be a shoe leather by the time it hits the plate. The other idea is to use a food thermometer, but not possessing one, I haven’t had a chance to test this.
For the above 100g burgers the total elapsed time was about seven or so minutes, use it as a guide but not gospel. Cookers vary so much and preferences for rare, medium and well done vary too, so use your discretion here, but make sure it’s cooked enough so that you’re ot going to give yourself food poisoning.
An optional step, but one that requires some firm judgment is to put some cheese onto the burgers about three quarters through the cooking process. If you slice it thinly enough, you’ll have it melt onto the burger
When done, get a fresh, warm burger bun and serve immediately. Ideally with some wedges or chips, or if you’re low-carbing like I was on this day just some veggies.