The Best Damn Burgers

Whenever I’m entertaining a crowd, I instinctively fall back on burgers. There’s a lot of room to play and people’s expectations always seem low so it’s easy to blow people away. So I thought I’d try something new again, but a little simpler than the burgers I’ve made before. The goal: less “extra” flavors and something incredibly rich and beefy–more of a steakburger.

The Best Damn Burger Ever

This was my excuse to play with my new KitchenAid meat grinder. I started with two separate cuts of beef: chuck (for fattiness–keeps the burger juicy) and ribeye (also fatty, but much more intense beef flavor). You could certainly throw the steak in a food processor, but a real meat grinder won’t turn your meat into texture-free paste. The goal is to nicely emulsify the meat and fat so you have a somewhat homogenous and tender end result

But anyways, back to the meat. These were incredible–very flavorful, very beefy, and very juicy. The supporting elements I worked into the ground beef (e.g. peppers, dijon, oregano) gave some zesty, earthy, spiciness, but nothing that got in the way of the beef, which is the star of the show.

Also, since no burger is complete without a bun, I thought I’d try my hand at those as well. The bun recipe originated from the second whitebread style as written in The Bread Baker’s Apprentice: Mastering the Art of Extraordinary Bread by Peter Reinhart. These were also fantastic–tender, tangy, and beautiful with a nice crust and delicate crumb.

  • Burger Patties
    • ~1.6 lb ribeye
    • ~0.9 lb chuck top steak
    • 1 shallot
    • 8 cloves garlic
    • 1 poblano
    • 1 Tbsp dijon
    • 1-2 Tbsp worcestershire
    • dash of bourbon
    • 1 egg
    • 2 chipotle + adobo
    • 1 Tbsp oregano
    • cayenne
    • salt
    • pepper
  • Toppings
    • arugula
    • tomato
    • rocquefort
  • Buttermilk Buns
    • 4.25 cups flour
    • 1.5 tsp salt
    • 3 Tbsp sugar
    • 2 tsp instant yeast
    • 1 egg
    • 1/4 cup butter
    • 1.5 cups buttermilk
    • Garnish
      • 1 egg
      • 1 tsp water
      • Sesame/poppy seeds

Buttermilk Hamburger Buns

Proof the dough for the buns

In a bowl, mix the flour, salt, sugar, and yeast. Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, add the egg, melted butter, and buttermilk. With the paddle attachment, beat these well. Then, add the contents of the flour bowl and beat just enough to get things mixed (figure 30 seconds). You should have a dough that looks soft and supple.

Now, switch to the dough hook attachment. Knead on medium speed for about 6-8 minutes. Again, the dough should be soft, supple, and tacky, but not sticky. As it nears completion, the dough should pull away from sides of the bowl but the bottom might just barely stick to the bottom of the bowl. Once time is up, the dough should pass windowpane test. That is, if you took off a small bit of dough (like the size of a nut), you should be able to roll it thin and pull in all directions until its so thin that you can see through it without tearing it.

Lightly oil a large bowl and transfer the dough to it. Roll it around to coat with oil and cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Let this sit in a warmish place (but essentially at room temperature) for 1.5-2 hours or til doubled in size to allow it some time to ferment.

Form boules from the dough twist/press to form buns

With the dough risen, divide it into 12 pieces. Form “tight rounds” from these. If you’re not a bread person, the technique you use to shape your bread is actually quite important. To get the shape we want for a bun, take a piece of dough and hold it in your lightly cupped hand, resting it in your fingers. Firmly press the dough into the counter as if you’re trying to push it through the counter, simultaneously twisting your hand so that you rotate it a circular motion. This should press the dough towards the outer edge of your hand and once you pull away from the counter, you should have a nice, tight round ball that just puts itself right in the palm of your hand. Tada–tight rounds!

Now, mist the rounds with oil and cover loosely with either a towel or plastic wrap and let these rest for 20 minutes. Then, gently press down on them with the palm of your hand to flatten slightly so that they’re shaped more like a hamburger bun rather than a dinner roll. Transfer these to lined sheet pans.

Proof, slash, brush with egg wash, and top with sesame seeds

Loosely cover these again and let them proof for another 60-90 minutes at room temperature or until roughly doubled in size.

Once they are, prepare the egg wash by beating the egg and water in a bowl until frothy. If you want to score the buns, slash them in the center and then lightly brush with egg wash. Finally, sprinkle on a handful of seeds.

Freshly baked buttermilk hamburger buns

Transfer these to a 400°F and bake for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool for an hour before cutting/eating.

Burger Patties

Chop the meat and vegetables into moderately thin strips

Making the burger patties is a pretty simple endeavor if you have a meat grinder (so you can make your own ground meat rather than buying ground beef).

Cut the beef into long, thin strips that can feed into your grinder. Do not discard excess fat. Do the same for the shallot and pepper and strip the paper off of the garlic. Put all of this in the freezer for roughly 30 minutes–it makes for a better grind and it helps to ensure that the fat doesn’t melt out during the grinding process.

With the meat and veg chilled, process this through the meat grinder. Mix in all of the remaining components gently with your hands, working it only as much as is necessary. Form this meat into burger patties of whatever size appeals to you. Chill them in the fridge until you’re ready to cook (or freeze extras for another day).

Form patties from the freshly ground meat mixture

Assembly

Finally, fire up your grill and get it nice and hot. Grill the burgers to your desired level of doneness, which I would speculate means 3-5 minutes per side. And yes, that means you only flip the burgers once. Don’t beat the meat.

The Best Damn Burger Ever

I like to grill my bun for about a minute while I melt the cheese on the burgers (I used rocquefort which I think pairs amazingly well). Get this on your plate and pile on the toppings (arugula and tomato for me), squirt on some ketchup, grab a beer, and enjoy!

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16 Responses to “The Best Damn Burgers”

  1. Hélène Says:

    I’m always afraid of not cooking the meat enough for burgers. I have to try your buns recipe. They look so perfect. Great burgers :)

  2. Jan Says:

    Ooooh now I want burgers! They look GOOD!
    Love the dash of bourbon too!

  3. Asha Says:

    I am drooling at 7am here!!
    I just came home to US from India, never touched meat for all the days I was there, as I was surrounded by my pure vegetarian family and friends all the time. Couldn’t even leave them for a second to grab some chicken even at McDonald’s! :D

    When I was served some Beef stew on Lufthasa flight on the way back, I was so eager to eat that Microwaved dinner, I burnt my tongue!

    Burgers look wonderful, will give it a try. Hello to Ramya! :)

  4. Jennie Says:

    You know, I have the grinder attachment for my KA. I bought it to make applesauce and it didn’t even once OCCUR to me to grind my own burgers! It was for applesauce! Way to compartmentalize, no?

    I think I’ll introduce my grinder to some beef this weekend! Your burgers look perfect!

  5. Memoria Says:

    Wow! Everything looks so great. I love the hamburger buns and the fact that you grinded the meat. YUM!

  6. Joan Nova Says:

    They definitely are the BEST damn burgers (even a splash of bourbon!) I agree with your comment about people’s expectations being low when they hear burgers but they are so versatile and there are so many heights you can take them to, it’s endless.

  7. The Duo Dishes Says:

    Making a burger from scratch–each and every part–is a good way to enjoy it start to finish. Your buns are perfect! We’ve got to try making buns and rolls.

  8. pam Says:

    There is nothing better than a homemade burger on a homemade bun.

  9. Choosy Beggar Tina Says:

    I love that you grind your own meat :) Those burgers look delectable, but I was more drawn to your buns…..I keep meaning to start making my own hamburger and sausage buns, but then I get distracted by something shiny and next thing you know it’s blue label on the table.

  10. Kevin Says:

    Those burgers look really tasty and with homemade buns they would be some of the best burgers going!

  11. Bunny Says:

    OMG I love the burgers, I love the homemade buns!! This is a winner all the way around Mike! Fantastic!!

  12. Lynn Says:

    I am so drooling! What does it take to get invited over for burgers? I’ll swap you some free babysititing….:-)

  13. Ex-Cube Mate Says:

    Nice buns man…

  14. Chez US Says:

    GREAT BURGER! Love these flavors! You might want to check out our ultimate burger contest and enter it – there is even a prize! http://www.chezus.com/2009/06/15/ultimate-hamburger/.

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