The Great Burger Debate
Here, we break down the components of what makes a REALLY GOOD burger. We tapped some of our favorite burger-makin’ chefs to hear their tips on perfecting the buttery bun, juicy patty and top-notch toppers.
Now, the foundation for every good hamburger: The bun.
You can really put a burger on anything and it would probably taste great, but what makes it stand out? Is it toasted? Is it buttered? Is it ramen noodles? Check out what Executive Chef Tim Hockett of M Burger has to say about his favorite bun:
“While it’s true that a burger tastes great on almost anything, considering the size and build of your burger is important when choosing the perfect bun,” says Hockett. “When I cook a smashed skinny burger I love to choose a classic Chicago style “Rosen” bun. This is the simplest of burger buns and has a very neutral and slightly sweet flavor that really lets the caramelized flavor of the burger stand out.
“For a slightly thicker (1/4 lb burger) burger, I like a bun that is a little more dense and flavorful. Martin’s Potato bun or a great brioche bun are my favorites to pair with a thicker burger. These buns won’t fall apart as you are eating your burger and they will nicely absorb the juices and actually improve the way your burger tastes.”
“For special occasions, and a shout out to the original burger joint in the USA, Louis’ Lunch, I like to make a great patty melt with my burger. I love to throw some onions on the griddle to cook with the burger (and some coopers cheese!) and place it on some great white or multi-grain toast with a little Dijonaise. The soft crunch of the bread with the creaminess of the cheese makes a great burger meal.
“Finally – Toasted or untoasted? Always toasted when possible – but NEVER OVER-TOAST! There is nothing worse than a dry overtoasted bun! When in doubt, don’t toast it too much. I love to use a little brush of melted butter on my buns to give them that rich toasted flavor – and for a real treat, I like to dap in in the beef juices (fat J) as the burger is cooking and toast my buns next to the burgers on the same griddle.”
This brings us to perhaps the most important part of a quality hamburger: The grilling.
Executive Chef Joe Decker of Wildfire, gave us his expert tips on grilling vs. griddling and how to ensure maximum juiciness.
“The question of grilling vs. griddling is very subjective. Many people love a griddled burger for a little more juiciness because it cooks in its own fat,” says Chef Decker. “Others choose grilling for the great char flavor that comes from the grill and the slightly healthier effect since some of the fat burns off the burger during the process.”
“The two most important steps in cooking a burger I actually learned from Lettuce Entertain You founder, Rich Melman!”
1. When grilling, do not move the burger often. Only move it to flip it over to cook the other side.
2. Do not smash the burger down with a spatula to speed up the cooking. If you follow these two steps, you’ll produce a very juicy burger.
Executive Chef Christian Eckmann of Bub City also gave us some great grilling tips:
“A blend of 80/20 meat-to-fat ratio is always a good place to start,” says Eckmann. “At Bub City, we smash two 3-oz. burgers on a griddle with fresh-cut sweet onions. A thick cast-iron pan works best for cooking at home. Use a spatula to smash the burger down and caramelize the beef. Give it a flip, add the American cheese and it’s ready to go in less than a minute.”
We like the sound of that!
The seasoning of a burger is a vital part.
The seasoning in a burger adds robust flavor and a unique texture to a great burger. Beatrix’s Executive Chef / Partner John Chiakulas explains why.
“One of the keys to a great burger is proper seasoning (Kosher salt, coarse & fine black pepper) on both sides, then we grill the burger, turning the burger twice but flipping the burger only one time,” says Chiakulas. “That keeps all of the juices inside.”
And there you have it! Burger tips from the pros themselves in honor of this most delicious dish. Happy eating!