I have been thinking a LOT about burgers lately. I love burgers. Good burgers. Especially burgers with eggs. And burgers with jalapenos. I love going new places for burgers. Last week, the SSS and I found an interesting array of burgers at Rookie's. Kind of a typical west-sidey sport's bar, but nice effort on the burger varieties!
So, while thinking a lot about burgers, I noted there are several schools of thought when it comes to burgers. For, instance:
- Meat. Ground beef, of course, but not necessarily. I like a fattier blend of good ground beef. 80-20 (check) is about right. You need to have some fat to get the flavor. It mostly cooks out and self-bastes the burgers. Ground pork can make for an interesting burger, as well. Lamb? Sha-BOOM! However, being a native South Dakota and very beef-centric, I gravitate to beef burgers, Lately, I have been obsessed with trying to figure out a proper blend of chuck, brisket, and short ribs, and that leads me to the sub topic of:
- Grinding. Got yourself a grinder yet? Why not??!! These are serious fun. Find the one your grandma had, or buy one for a Kitchen Aid mixer, or if all else fails, use a sharp knife. Personally, I'd avoid the Cuisinart for this. Seriously, the motor will make the meat warm. Start with cuts of whole meat- chuck roast, sort ribs, or whatever is on sale. Keep things cold- put the grinder parts in the freezer. Work fast. You will be rewarded with ground beef that you won't think twice about cooking to medium rare and have opened the door to hours of cooking fun.
- Thickness. Self explanatory. Thick, like half-pound plus patties, or thin ones of, say, a quarter pound or less that are patted very thin. Obviously, the thick puppies are easier to cook to lower temps like medium rare, but the thinness have advantages, too. Think multiple patties.
- Additional stuff in the burger. This can be a simple proposition that includes things like lots of dry seasonings and marinades, to more complicated ingredients like onions, sun dried tomatoes, and fresh herbs, to stuffing patties with cheese or other ingredients (the so-called Jucy Lucy).
- Cooking method. Open grill? Flames kissing the patty. Griddle? A flat hot surface that lends itself to a crispy crust. Personally, I like hot flat cast iron for thinner patties and the open grill for thicker patties.
- Cheese. Why wouldn't you have cheese on a burger? Seriously.
- Toppings. Sometimes, it is hard to beat simple. Ketchup, mustard, pickles, and onion. But sometimes, it is hard to avoid a little more complicated, aka the Jimmy Buffet burger, which for me means all the previous toppings, plus lettuce and tomato, and Heinz 57 sauce. (Try it! Make sure you also have a big Kosher pickle and a cold draft beer.) And, of course, there are the uber complicated toppings. Think sauteed greens in balsamic vinegar, grilled onions, sun dried tomatoes, wild mushrooms, runny eggs, aged cheeses, other meats, etc, etc. Here are examples of what I mean along these lines. Next time you are in Vegas, go there.
- Buns. Brioche, potato rolls, foccacia, whole grain, pita bread, ciabatta. So many choices. The bun can totally change the whole vibe of any burger. But, no matter what, it must be toasted.
Sides? That's a whole other post. Hell, fries alone is almost a series of posts. But, if you want a really good fry right now? Go to Jane's Little Coalinga.
So many great burger options and we have lots of great places to try them here in Sioux Falls. Get out and try them. Let me know what you think.