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Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Some Burger-Making Tips

Madhu posted some useful tips about making burgers. Here are my notes from my many experiments with burger-making as an extension.

- In terms of meat-fat ratio, I have experimented with everything from 70-30 to 93-7. While 90-10 or 93-7 produce relatively drier burgers, the difference is not THAT big if you make your burgers medium rare, which I do, and which is THE way to cook them if it's fresh meat. But if you like it done more than medium-rare, and you don't want your burger to be too greasy, 85-15 is perfect.
Madhu said 75-25, but I personally don't like that level. Then again, I am a game-meat-burger fan, and game meat tends to be low on fat. Varies per your taste. Also, an average burger is like an aircraft carrier of calories, so it's advisable to go with the lowest fat ratio you find manageable. Anyway, point is, if you are a n00b, don't obsess over the meat-fat ratio yet.

- Another reason to not worry about the meat-fat ratio is if you take my seasoning advice. I usually add minced onion and minced garlic in the meat. I have found that adding them juices up the burger and makes the burger taste great too. The wife likes adding minced green chillies and ginger too. Also good. These are the basic default seasonings we use (and salt, of course).

- Do not shy of experimenting with desi spices. We have tried every combination of powdered forms of cumin, coriander, peppercorn, cardamom, and even garam masala. The quantity varies with your taste too. A heavy hand with spices will essentially lead to a chapli-kebab-patty, which I occasionally like. Other times, just add sprinklings for a more subtle taste.

- I am not a big fan of cheese in burgers, not the way they sell it in restaurants, anyway. I find it makes the burger soggy, drippy, and overall messy. And of course, the calories, totally not worth it. At home, I usually sprinkle a little shredded cheese on top of the patty.

- About the sauces, again, don't shy of experimenting with desi chutneys such as coriander or mint chutneys. Some folks I know feel it is "lowbrow" to add desi chutneys or spices to burgers. I find that attitude pretentious and ignorant of the fact that a burger is a, well, fucking burger! FYI, the famous Piranha sauce in the superfamous Ray's Hellburger near DC is, if my tastebuds got it right, essentially a green chutney of chillies and coriander.

- Other toppings - tomato, onion, lettuce, bacon etc is standard. I also like spinach leaves. I strongly recommend jalapenos if you get them there. The wife doesn't like raw onion, so she saut├ęs onion and capsicum together to use as a topping. Another idea I have seen and loved at Burger Barn in Pune (and a handful of American places) is a fried egg as a topping.

- Personally, I like to pop the buns in the oven for a few minutes. Not exactly toasted, but lightly crisped. Dont add any butter, because the point of this oven-toasting is that it really delays the soggening of the buns.