The burger is usually thought of as summer fare — the progeny of some spatula-wielding self-appointed grill master. But true burger fans know that the very best are not cooked over grill grates, but on screaming hot solid surfaces, where the rendering fat and juices stay near the patty, creating not only a crispy exterior, but the deep, caramelized, confit-like richness that defines the flavor of a great burger.
Which means, of course, that burgers are actually year-round food, and armed with a heavy cast iron skillet or griddle, a great way to spend an dark, cold evening stuck inside. If we're gonna have January, than let us always have burgers.
A few Christmases ago, when I first got my band saw, I made my [now] wife this wooden cheeseburger for her office desk. The whole thing was made from old wooden flooring and other scraps, and each of the colors comes from the natural wood tones of a variety of species.
There are the traditional burgers - the griddle-cooked patties and toasted buns and standard fare toppings described in Jimmy Buffet songs. And then there are the pub burgers, the thicker brother, covered in everything from coleslaw and pulled pork to onion rings , cranberry sauce, and duck confit.
Burgers. They're a little bit art, a little bit science, and 100% iconic. There are plenty of styles, and most conversations on the topic talk about proper cooking technique, choosing a balanced collection of toppings, texture, etc.
It seems like heresy, especially in the height of grilling season and particularly the day after Independence Day weekend, but if you want to make truly amazing burgers at home, don't ever let them touch the grill.
Some argue that bacon is a trick: anything tastes that much more delicious when you put bacon on top of it.
But a bacon cheeseburger isn't just a cheeseburger with bacon on it...at least, it shouldn't be. The additional salt and smoke and texture call for changing the your whole burger strategy, finding a way to highlight the bacon rather than just waste inside all the standard toppings.
Of course Ernest Hemingway had a favorite burger recipe. Guy was pretty opinated, enjoyed the simple things, and certainly celebrated a "hands on" lifestyle. What's interesting here,
Thomas and Quentin have come up with one of my favorite art projects from 2012 - "Fat & Furious Burger." Each week, the French graphic design team offer a new burger, a physical piece crafted from real ingredients, that comments on recent news and current events.
We're nearing August, and the whole northern hemisphere is well into prime grilling season. By this point, your grilling game is at its peak - you're well seasoned, and so are you grates. You've been trying a few recipes you've never done before, learning how to better control your fire, so now it's time to revisit a classic, and perfect the burger.
If you're gonna go through the effort of making burgers at home, make them amazing. Here's how:
Dave Arnold, Director of Technology at the French Culinary Institute, has imagined a burger of the future. What's so different? Oh, well, it begins with gluing strips of bacon together with Activia RM, then making a ketchup and veal stock gel with calcium lactate gluconate, which is then cut into a little circle and stuffed inside a patty made from short ribs and chuck. Then, the patty is deep fried, cooked with butter in an immersion circulator, then grilled on a makeshift charcoal grill, while toasted rye, pickles, cheese, and the bacon sheet are all cut into perfect circles. The sandwich is assembled, and when cut, the ketchup/stock gel explodes onto the plate.
Or, just watch the video:
The team at A Hamburger Today have gathered three iconic, bi-coastal burgers for a showdown: NYC's Shake Shack, California's In-N-Out, and Virginia-founded/multistate chain, Five Guys.
Folks in California have a pretty fine food setup - they can grow avocado and citrus trees in their backyards, some kinda of winery is alway a day's drive away, and when you decide it's time for an In-N-Out burger, it's time for an In-N-Out burger.
And what are the rest of us to do? Why, make them at home, of course. To get the recipe just right, Serious Eat's writer Kenji Alt (of McDonald's French Fries at home fame) had four flash frozen burgers shipped from California to his home in NYC, busted out the scales, and got down to some serious reverse engineering.
Admittedly, I haven't tried the results yet, but with the detail and sheer reading-pleasure of Kenji's full walkthrough, you better believe its on my list of things to do this weekend.