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How To Make a Gourmet Burger

by Benjamin Sauerborn
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A burger is something you always expect to be good and usually up to your particular standard. Burgers aren’t all that forgiving because anyone wrong thing about it can throw the entire burger off. It’s one of those dishes where each ingredient has to work on their own, bur together to avoid throwing the whole thing off. Dry or soggy buns, dry or greasy meat, veg that isn’t fresh, and old sauces are some of the less desirable aspects of a burger, here you can find some steps and equipment you can use to make sure you get a perfect burger, every time. 

  • The patty
  • The buns
  • Veg prep
  • Cooking – grill, pan, burger dome

The Patty

Obviously it all starts with great ingredients so make sure that’s what you buy. The meat you buy has the biggest impact so choose wisely, especially when it comes to fat content. Fat keeps the burger from drying out and adds incredible flavor. Go for ground beef that has at least 15-20% fat, when that renders in the burger it’ll be phenomenal. Generally, avoid going over 20%. There’s something called the 80/20 burger meal, which is 80% lean meat to 20% fat. 

Shaping the patty is almost just as important as the meat you buy so pay close attention to it. When you make patties yourself there are 2 bad things that could happen: either you use your hands too much, in turn, the heat from your hands renders the fat, or you overwork the patty making it tougher than it should be. You can use things around the kitchen to form your own patties, for example, I used to line the bottom of two plates with parchment paper, stick ¼ pound of ground beef in between them and formed them that way. While that didn’t always create perfectly symmetrical burgers, it did the trick just fine. 

Alternatively, you can buy a burger press like the Weston Burger Express hamburger press and make perfect, restaurant-style burgers right at home. Presses are usually made of plastic and come with two parts. One to hold the meat, and another to press down. You can buy one for a very moderate price and easily have it for a long long time. Once you’ve pressed the burger and are ready to cook it, just season it with some salt and pepper, cover it with olive oil, then grill or fry it for 4-5 minutes on either side depending on how thick the burger is. 

The Buns

Making your own buns

When you make your own buns well, it’s just one of the things that end to that amazon end effect when you take a bite of your perfect burger. The bun is definitely one of the more important factors of a good burger, not just because it’s what you’re holding and feeling, but what you’re looking at and about to take a bite out of. The beautiful thing about making everything from buns to patties at home is that you’ll be able to contour the patties to the size of your buns. So you won’t end up with really wide buns and a small meat puck in the center. To make your own buns you’ll need a few basic things that you probably already have in your kitchen. Mixing bowl, wooden spoon, and two hands to knead, but there are some things that can help make your life easier. First up is a stand mixer. A stand mixer can get expensive which is why it’s good that they’re usefully for way more than just baking as a whole. Kitchenaid makes the best stand mixers I’ve ever used and at a fairly moderate price like the KitchenAid 5qt Artisan Series. Make sure you get a mixer with a dough hook attachment too because obviously, you’d need that for dough. 

The second is a bun pan. Like you probably guessed it’s a baking tray with little molds inside of it that control the size and shape of your bun while it proofs and bakes. They’re really handy when you’re new to making your own buns, although they take the fun away from it a little once you have the hang of making them yourself. Check out the Bluedrop silicon hamburger bread baking forms, they take away all of the challenges of making perfect hamburger buns that it’s almost cheating! 

The third piece of equipment is a conveyor toaster like the Vevor Conveyor Toaster. These can be expensive so you probably shouldn’t if you don’t have a lot to splash, but they make life way easier when you’re cooking for a crowd in particular. Toasting buns in a frying pan or on the grill can take up space, and require some attention. Simply placing them on a timed conveyor greatly reduces your stress levels towards the end. Find our full burger bun recipe here.

Sauces

Sauce is the glue that binds a burger together. Even a really simple mayo and ketchup mixture can enhance a burger. If you’re sauce finatic and love making them yourself you should look into buying some of these things. Starting with measuring:

Measuring Ingredients

Making good sauce is all about finding good ratios of ingredients, and accurately. It doesn’t get more accurate than an electric scale, so invest in one for the whole kitchen. Depending on how much you make at a time you could buy a large, commercial-scale to make big batches. If you’re not that huge into it, buy a regular digital kitchen scale or get an Amazon Basics Digital Kitchen Scale, it’s affordable and it gets the job done!

Mixing & Blending

A blender is a must for effective sauce making can leave you with a much smoother texture than just mixing alone would. Again the mixer you buy depends heavily on how passionate you are about sauce. If you make large batches of sauce investing in something like the All-Clad Stainless Steel Immersion Blender. I used to use them all the time to make all kinds of sauces in huge white tubs for a restaurant. If you’re not that huge on it, a small hand held immersion blender like the Amazon Basics Immersion blender or even just a normal blender does the trick.  But if you’re feeling extra spiffy, nothing can beat the 

A rubber scraper like the Rubbermaid High Heat Scraper is a must for evenly blended sauces because dry ingredients have a tendency to hide in the deepest crevices of any kind of tub. The rubber bends to fit the angle of whatever your scraping so you can get back to blending in no time.

 

Sauce & Serving Storage

Sauces need to be stored airtight, and preferably so they don’t take up a lot of space. As far as I’m concerned there are two ways to go. Squeeze bottles like the OXO Good Grips Chef’s Squeeze bottle will store better and be more convenient to use and access whereas they can be a little tedious to clean. Little tubs with screw-on or lock-on lids can be stacked in the fridge, and thrown into the dishwasher with ease. Plastic portion cups with lids can also be purchased in case you want some to go, or as a dip instead. 

Cooking

Grilling

There’s nothing quite like a burger fresh off the grill, regardless whether you’re using gas, charcoal, or an exotic mix of wood that took 10 years for your grandfather to get right. If you don’t already have one parked in your garage these are some of the grills you can get that won’t break the bank or fall part upon arrival. 

Frying

There nothing wrong with frying a burger over the stove indoors. Pan-frying a burger opens a lot of doors to enhance your burger, particularly through your ability to baste it. Making delicious garlic and herb butter to baste with so easy, and it gives your burger layer after layers of different flavor profiles taking the patty, pun, sauce, and vegetables into account. You’ve heard me say it before and ill say it again: Cast-iron is amazing for searing and cooking meat. Naturally, I wouldn’t use anything else.  Cast-iron gets incredibly hot which helps deliver the perfect texture that makes a burger just right. A patty that feels raw will undoubtedly also feel unappetizing.  

Grill Spatula

While you likely own a spatula you like at home, one of these grill spatulas like the Deiss Pro Stainless Steel Grill Spatula just feels natural and has a specific function. The thin, metal lets you slide under meat easily, particularly flaky or delicate meats like fish or burgers. They normally have a long handle to keep yourself from getting burned and giving you a larger turning capacity. There are a lot of shapes and styles to choose from, some for a certain function, and some that are just meant to look cool. These also double as a scraper when it comes time to clean the grill. 

Burger dome

Although not a requirement for great burgers, a burger dome looks like the Jim Beam Burger Dome looks super professional and can be used for a lot more than just burgers. In this instance though, it’s used to melt the cheese on a burger and also helios to give it a more even cook. Naturally, they’re also great for things like grilled cheese, frying an egg, and simply just keeping food warm.

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