From Disappointment to Discovery

For years I've struggled to make a good burger at home. I get a good burger at a restaurant and it always sends me back to the drawing board.

Breadcrumbs, panko, egg, different seasonings, different fat content. I’ve tried them all and then some.

I knew what I should do. Take total control of the beef and grind it at home. But it always seemed one step to far.

And then I remembered the day, years ago, when I bought the meat grinder attachment to my Kitchen Aid mixer, put it in the cabinet and promptly forgot about it. I pulled it out and was ready to go.

I had questions. Would grinding meat myself really make all the difference, as people who swear by it say? Would my Kitchen Aid attachment (which did not look big, sturdy and dangerous like a meat grinder should) really be up to the task? Yes and Yes. Although Im not sure of the full range of the attachment's capabilities, it is more than up to the task of helping me make a good burger.

So I went and bought an organic, grass-fed, chuck roast. Nothing fancy. And unlike buying pre-ground, I knew exactly what was going to be in my burger. It looked good. I thought it had about the right amount of fat. And unlike buying pre-ground, I knew exactly what was going to be in my burger. And I went to work. But it really wasn’t much work. I set up the mixer with attachment. Got the meat good and cold - a tip I had read about. Cut it into lengths that would fit into the hopper and started grinding. My first thought was this thing really works! Not a lot of bells and whistles but good for what I needed. I wanted to really see the difference, so with nothing more than a little salt and pepper, I gently shaped patties and put them in a cast iron pan that I had pre-heated until very hot. They sizzled, they splattered. I flipped them - just once. No pressing with the spatula. Just let them go. I like burgers on English muffins, so I toasted a couple and that was that. Nothing to hide any shortcomings

Discovery - this was a really good burger. Great flavor, great texture, juicy. Just what I was looking for. So I have a new baseline. With this as a starting place, I can think about spices, binder (I think I’ll need one - egg, breadcrumbs?) and condiments. But I know I won’t be trying to hide the burger. I’ll be enhancing the flavor and texture with a very light hand.

So with that in my future the question is what wine to serve with a good, juicy, at-home burger?

Credit: Robert Acosta Lewis

2 Responses

  1. A hamburger is simplicity. You pick good meat with the right amount of fat (I prefer twenty percent), grind it, season it and cook it just like you did. No bread crumbs! No egg! No high quality hamber palace uses egg or bread crumbs. Meatloaf requires one egg per pound of meat and a cup to a cup and s half of FRESH breadcrumbs briefly moistened with milk and then squeezed to remove excess moisture. When the burger is ready use a bun that is soft enough so that when you bite into your burger the meat does not escape or your gums are lacerated. Preferred accompanyments are good mustard, mayo, lettuce, thin sliced sweet onion and dill pickle. Do not try to reinvent perfection. Just pay attention and do it right.

Leave a comment