Even though Brandon is a food snob, he really likes a good burger. A good gourmet burger is hard to come by in the restaurant world. Many places claim they're great and have "interesting" toppings, but alas, they are mediocre. Here are some gourmet burgers that you can make at home.
First, the meat is important. We use our own meat animals or purchase locker beef. For those of you unfamiliar with this, it is when you find a farmer who has a cattle they take to the butcher. Usually they sell portions, like half (a side) or a quarter. You pay the farmer for the portion and the butcher to cut and wrap it the way you want it. Some farmers also retail meat, which is a great option for smaller quantities.
Meat raised on small farms can taste like commercial meat, but it is usually better depending on how the farmer fed them. They can be grass finished (no grain) or grain finished, which have different flavors - try them out and see what you prefer. Pork, lamb, and cabrito (goat) is usually other locker meats that are available. The farmer can tell you what they've fed their animals and you can pick what you want.
Often we make all-beef patties from ground extra-lean burgers. I don't think burgers need to be greasy to have great flavor and I don't like the greasiness feels or grill flame-ups I have to fight. If you find that your lean burgers are falling apart, mix in one egg white per pound of ground beef. It doesn't add flavor, but it helps hold it together.
By default, I season patties with light salt, medium to heavy black pepper (depending on who they are for), onion powder, and garlic powder (not garlic salt). Seasoning salt is an abomination in our home/my kitchen, but you can ruin your burgers with it if you want ... I do vary from this normal seasoning if I'm making special burgers. For example, I may add a bit of oregano or gyro herbs to a lamb-beef patty that it topped with gyro toppings.
The choice of meats is completely up to you. I don't use ground turkey or chicken because we don't really like it in this application. If you want poultry, I would suggest using boneless skinless thighs or breasts rather than ground. All-pork patties are good and well-suited for added seasoning. Look for herbs to mix into the met that compliment your toppings. Be creative. The ideas below are just a starting place.
Poultry and pork patties should be cooked until well done with no pink left. This includes pork-beef mixtures. Beef, lamb, and cabrito are best medium-rare with a little warm pink in the middle. For juicy patties, let them rest for 3-5 minutes on a tray or baking sheet first before putting them on the buns.
Keys for good burgers.
Now for some recipes/ideas:
These are good made with all-beef, squealers, or beef-lamb patties - heavily pepper the patties. After turning once, top with bleu cheese. You can use metal cooking rings to hold on the cheese (rings like biscuit cutters, but must be heat-proof). Serve with lettuce, tomato, onion, and mayo. These are especially good with cooked bacon slices and buffalo dressing instead of regular condiments.
Before cooking, brush the beef patty with teriyaki sauce instead of seasoning. Grill as usual. After turning, top with a mild cheese. Grill pineapple rings, red onion rings, and Canadian bacon (ham) rounds. Assemble burgers and offer with tomato and lettuce.
("Gyros" is pronounced YEE-rohs ... it's Greek; gyros = singular, gyri = plural ... or just call them all gyros.)
1 sm Onion, chopped
1 lb Lamb, ground
1 lb Beef, extra lean ground
1 T Garlic, mined
1 T Marjoram, dried
1 T Rosemary, dried ground
1 t Salt
1/2 t Black pepper fresh ground
Puree onion in food processor until a paste. Squeeze out onion juice using a strong paper towel, cheesecloth, or towel. Return to food processor with herbs. Process to mix. Add lamb. Process to a paste. Mix in with ground beef. Form into patties. Grill the first side, then turn over. Add feta crumbles to the top of the patty, close the lid, and finish cooking. Feta does not readily melt, but will soften. Serve on buns with tzatziki sauce (recipe not included here), lettuce, onions, and tomatoes.
Slice mushrooms and sauté in white wine and butter as if preparing to top a steak. Finish with a little parsley. Cook patties. When turning, top with mushrooms and then slices of Gruyere on top of the mushrooms. Gruyere is a Swiss cheese, but not what Americans view as "the" Swiss cheese (which is actually called emmental). Gruyere has more flavor - a little nutty with a touch of salty, and doesn't release greasy drops like a lot of "Swiss" does. Close the lid, melt the cheese, and allow it to melt into the mushrooms. Serve with desired dressings. Skip the ketchup and mustard on this one, and go for a little dark steak sauce, like A-1.
Grill all beef or blended meat patties. When turning the patty, top with pepper jack cheese. Serve with grilled onion, avocado or guacamole, tomato, grilled or crispy fried jalapenos, and lettuce. Use traditional condiments, or try a little southwest or chipotle ranch salad dressing.
1 lb Beef, extra lean ground
6-9 slices Bacon
Choose bacon quantity based on your preference. Thin cut may need more than noted. Chop up the bacon and puree in a food processor until a paste. Mix in with ground beef, divide into burgers, and grill until well-done. (Not medium-rare because of the bacon.) I like my squealers with a good quality cheese and traditional condiments, though barbecue sauce would also go well instead of ketchup and mustard.
Wife to Brandon, mother to Tess and Liam, farmer, entrepreneur, cook & baker, nurse, and accountant who loves to try new things, travel, and work toward greater self-reliance.