Perfect hamburger – your step by step guide

All right… Hamburger. The quintessence of junk food, well, besides hotdog, of course… But really, to make a really good burger is very much not a trivial job, mind you! Nailing that perfect balance of taste in the patty, ensuring the texture is just right, using just the amount of sauce required (and creating that sauce too!) – that’s a never ending journey… I’ve spent over 10 years perfecting my burger patty recipe and yet, after a trip down to Tasmania, it got a new twist!

Curious? Great! I’ve got a true step by step guide for you, so let’s go!

First of all, the patty mince ingredients. I always use a mix of beef and pork, 50/50 proportion. The below amount will be enough for about 20 quarter-pounders.

  • 1 kg (2.5 lb) pork mince
  • 1 kg (2.5 lb) beef mince

Now, I can already see few frowning faces, so no, I don’t make my own mince. I go to my butcher, with whom I am very friendly, and just get that mince ready!

We will also need:

  • 2 medium onions, roughly chopped
  • 8 tbsp oatmeal – yes-yes, don’t give me that look. You WILL thank me later! 🙂

Now the spices and condiments… Left to right, top to bottom:

  • 1 heaped tbsp of sweet paprika
  • 4 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 3 tbsp sweet Thai chili sauce
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp Baharat – this is a middle eastern spice mix, usually containing black pepper, cumin seeds, cinnamon, cloves, coriander seeds, nutmeg and cardamom. VERY good with all kinds of meat.
  • 1 tbsp Tasmanian smoked sea salt with pepperberry – a native Tasmanian berry, adding a completely unique taste. It can be found online…
  • 2 tsp ground black pepper

Now we get to the only thing I consider the game changer in my recipe – blender. When my kids were little, the moment they saw anything but the meat in the patty, it was a hard “no”! Then I decided to puree all I am adding in and… I do that ever since! So, everything but the meat goes into the blender and gets pureed. As part of that the oatmeal gets milled into what you can call an oatmeal flour – very rough one – and acts as a moisture absorber, making your patties fluffier and richer.

Yeah… trust me, I know, looks not too appetising 🙂 … But now it’s time to mix and knead! A good kneading is important, because it makes the proteins in the meat form new ties and make the mix more sticky so it can hold it’s shape.

Once we’ve got it mixed and kneaded it for about 3-4 minutes, ideally the mix should spend at least 2-3 hours in the fridge to have all the tastes blended, but if you’re in a hurry you can shape your patties right away…

To shape the patties I use a quarter-pounder press I bought on Amazon years ago – check out burger press in there, you’ll get tons of options… Any would be good. Having a wax paper handy helps separating the patties and store them stacked.

Grilling… common mistake is way too high heat. Burgers don’t need that, as they have plenty of fat inside to keep moist. We also added oatmeal, which is very hygroscopic (moisture absorbing, that is), and it will keep the juices in. So, medium heat, 6-7 minutes per side for medium well, or 7-8 for well done – and once again, these patties can easily be made well done, because of the way we keep the juices in. If you want to have a cheeseburger, simply place a slice of cheese on top of the patty during the last 2 minutes of grilling – it will soften and melt beautifully.

By the way – that dimple in the middle of each patty is absolutely necessary. The meat is exposed to direct heat not only from below or above but also on its sides; as a result, the edges of the patty shrink, cinching your burger kind of like a belt, compressing its interior up and out, inflating it like a ball…

That’s it – have your bun roasted, your veggies sliced and ready! Here’s a tip for a killer sauce – take that mayo you would usually use and mix it 2:1 with chipotle in adobo sauce… That sweet, tangy and spicy aioli will be perfect in the burger.

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