I’m passionate about burgers. A simple combination of meat and buns have the power to change the world. I’m always brainstorming, experimenting and tweaking with things to see if I can improve on something that is already perfect. There’s always room for improvement. So, on brainstorming session this week, after sitting at my desk for an hour I decided to do another burger. This time, with cheese and bacon bread from Coles as the bun. I must tell you, it turned out better than I expected. I love going to Coles, it’s my little therapy session. I love watching the free market in motion. The market doesn’t get purer than at the supermarket: people walk around for things they need, and they buy it. But this blog isn’t a commentary on consumerism or the open market. This segment is about mashing up of foods that are already awesome.
One of my favourite things to do is going to the Coles Supermarket. I usually don’t use the trolley or the basket as I try to keep the number of items to under six. So, I went along today to pick up a pack of freshly baked cheese and bacon bread, beef mince and few other things.
I’d like to say that I’ve mastered the art of cooking the perfect burger. There’s a bit of technique involved. In order to cook the perfect burger patty, you need a good pan. My pan of choice is the cast iron. Something about the cast iron pan that, to me, is primal and pure. I use that term a lot “pure”. I like things that are just down to its bare essential but crafted well. The cast iron pan is made to last decades is not centuries. I bought mine a few years back and I haven’t used any other frypan ever since.
Anyway, to cook the perfect burger, you need to keep in mind few terms like smash, maillard reaction and umami, I’ll explain these terms below.
First of all, make sure your well-oiled pan is piping hot. I don’t know what temp it should be, but when you put your ball of meat on that, it should start sizzling like nothing else. Have a couple of 50g balls of minced beef ready, one for you and the other for your loved one. I cook by sight and instincts a lot. When I can see and feel that my cast iron pan has reached the right temp, I place one of the meat balls on the pan. Just give it a moment to chill and get acquainted with the hot surface. Again, play it by ear. After about ten seconds, smash down the meat with a burger smasher so that the contact of the underside of the meat is maximized with the griddle. Really use your muscles when smashing down that meat on the pan, give it a real press down. Hit it with a decent amount of salt. This is when you salt it and not before. You’ll know when to flip when the meat starts to bleed on the top and runs through the crevices. Once that happens, let it chill for couple of seconds before flipping.
That’s when you’ll see the magic of meat technology. You’ll notice that the meat is beautifully crispy. That’s all due to what’s known as maillard reaction. Basically, maillard reaction is when the sugars in the meat caramelize and become candy. The subtle sweet from the reaction, the salt and the savoury taste of the meat comes together to form the umami flavour. Umami is the most desirable taste, even above sweet. Anyway, when you flip the patty, salt this side with about half or even quarter of the amount of salt you used for the first side then place a slice or two of cheddar cheese. Let it melt to the liquid state and be running off onto the pan. By the time that happens, second side should also be nice and crispy. Remove the burger and place it gently on the heel (heel is the bottom part of the burger bun). Before you do that, feel free to use tomato sauce, mustard and mayo to your taste. Personally, I don’t mind a bit of ketchup, mustard and a slice of pickle or two. Then place the crown (top part of the burger bun) on top.
This version of the burger turned out very well. Just make sure you have few hours free after eating it for a nap.
Verdict: Almost Perfect Burger