Whilst the 2013/2014/2015 Sydney hamburger craze will probably go the direction of the 2013/2014/2015 Sydney dumpling craze, for me at least, it has given me cause to reconsider the roots of a good – a great burger – and what it is all about.
Because if you have a burger at Chur Burger, or Neil Perry’s Burger Project or Sean Connolly’s Parlour Burger (with the one-day viral wonder, the Black Widow Burger), their core burger is about simplicity and quality of ingredient.
And that is perhaps where I have gone astray.
For years, my signature burger dish has been about two things:
- The paddy:
- 1kg Beef Mince
- 1 egg
- (Red) online, diced
- Handful of parsley, chopped
- A number of really good splashes of Worcestershire Sauce (and therefore the flavour)
- A heaped teaspoon of Horseradish
- The balance:Grilled (BBQ) slices of white toast
- Torn cos lettuce
- Sliced tomato
- Sliced cheddar cheese to melt on the BBQed paddies
- Ketchup (not tomato sauce), good egg mayo and American Mustard
And whilst, if really flame grilled over a high heat and served medium-rare, this is a cracker burger, it isn’t the essence of burger. It is like customising mac and cheese when the purity of proper mac and cheese needs no improvement. It is like adding bacon to a Big Mac. There isn’t necessarily a need.
Worst still, I was using crappy mince from the supermarket. And the mince is where the flavour is!
Indeed, reflecting back on all the burgers I have cooked over the years – including the Tuscan Burger than won me a gong at a Wiliam food day – they have all been about stuffing ingredients into the patty. And using crudolla mince.
This burger recipe by Neil Perry is your classic mac and cheese. It will surprise nobody except that freshness of the meat makes the difference. Here, you MUST instruct your butcher to find his finest, most marbled piece of chuck steak. And then to grind it, fresh, on his coarsest setting.
At which point, you need to sprint home to cook it.
Get back to basics, invest in the meat, buy some really good buns (not that crap at Woolies), open a Corona with some lime and eat this bad boy in the sun. Seriously, this is good!
Oh, and if you can BBQ your buns and especially bacon on the BBQ as well, the taste simply gets even better by a factor of 10: Neil Perry says so himself!
I have slightly adjusted his recipe.
1kg of freshly ground chuck steak
½ – ¾ tsp sea salt
Extra virgin olive oil
4 hamburger buns, split and toasted (ideally grilled on the BBQ)
Ketchup, American Mustard and egg mayonnaise
4 slices gruyere (or sliced cheddar if gruyere not on tap)
8 rashes of good bacon
Lettuce and tomato slices
Sliced, picked cucumber (optional)
Freshly ground pepper
- The bacon needs to be really, really crispy and this will take time. Depending on timings, start cooking the bacon in a pan or prepare it ready for the BBQ, ensuring that in either event, it is cooked to the point of snapping in two.
- Place the meat in a bowl and sprinkle with salt. Mix gentle and divide into 4. Move each portion between your hands for a minute to make a firm, though not overworked patty. Shape into a ball. Gently flatten to form patties around 3cm thick. (If you are refrigerating, cover in cling wrap and ensure that they are bought back to room temperature prior to cooking).
- Heat your BBQ (or pan) to very hot. Grill the burger for 2 minutes on one side, flip and another 3 minutes, placing a slice of cheese on top of each paddy for the final minute of cooking. Let the patties rest for 5 minutes and whilst doing so, grill your buns, taking note of your bacon depending on however you are cooking it.
- Assemble your bad boy; bottom of bun, mayo and mustard, patty, lettuce and tomato, bacon, ketchup, grind of pepper, top of bun.
- Close your eyes and eat.