For our first foray into the world of food blogging together as The Succulent Ape and Cosmic Chef, we decided to cook some burgers and fries and invite some friends over to chow down. It was all on a whim, The Succulent Ape woke up and felt like making burgers and later on, while we were walking in the park he suggested we start blogging about it. Ever the scribe, I rubbed my hands in glee at the thought of combining three of the things I love the most in one. When it comes to cooking, I definitely hold amateur status having only touched raw fish for the first time a few weeks ago. SA’s burgers are famed for their chunkiness and chompiness (I don’t care if that is not a real word, it’s the perfect description for his burgers) so he was handling the meat and I was made Deputy Chief of Potatoes. Potatoes…..mmmm…..oh…potatoes. And what better to go with a chunky, chompy burger than some oven roasted wedges. A mouth watering prospect indeed.The good news is that making the perfect burger is well within the reach of the average home chef. As with everything, perfection comes down to a combination of the right ingredients and the right technique.
The Perfect Gourmet Burger
First, one must purchase the correct type of ground beef (the meat of the matter). Surprisingly, the quality or cut of the meat is not as important as another, often-overlooked factor – fat content. That being said, it is often difficult to get consistent, quality beef at our local butchers here in Dhaka, so we’ve put together a simple ratio of 50% sirloin and 50% ribeye for my burgers today, but you can try with a 30/70 ratio as well for more juicy (and less healthy) patties. Doesn’t make for cheap burgers, definitely.
Initially, I just loosely tossed the ribeye and sirloin together so that two meats were evenly mixed. One of the secrets to good burger patties is to not handle the meat too much before cooking. Once the beef was loosely mixed together, I formed it into 4 large 200gm balls. We then flattened the balls slightly into 15-18 cm wide disks (for those of you who play ice-hockey, of whom there are none here in Dhaka, that’s hockey-puck sized), and then made a deep 5cm-wide 1cm-deep depression in the middle of each patty with the thumb. This prevents the patty from expanding and turning into a meatball during the cooking process. Salt and pepper was generously applied only 5-10 minutes before cooking. Otherwise, too much of the moisture will leave the patty due to the salt.
At this point, it was time to get the cast iron skillet on the stove and get it nice and hot. Cast iron is my go-to cooking tool for any meat, as the cast iron retains heat and therefore the meat cooks evenly. Once the cast iron is nice and hot, I dumped in 2 tablespoons of butter – butter browns the patty like nothing else will, and is my fat of choice for burger frying. 2 patties at a time is enough, and 4 minutes on the first side and 3 minutes on the second should give you a nice medium. We cooked ours a little longer and they were well done. If you don’t have cast iron, you might have to add a minute or two on each side, as conventional non-stick skillets will not get as consistently hot.
Remember – never press down on the patty with the spatula like you see those cartoon burger chefs doing. They just don’t know what’s up as pressing down on the patty basically squeezes out all of the good juices and results in dry patties. Another good rule of thumb – only flip once.
You can test the patty for doneness by pressing down on with your finger. A lot of give is rare, a little give is medium, and barely any give means it’s well done. For more about how to test meat for doneness, check out http://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/the_finger_test_to_check_the_doneness_of_meat/
Once I flipped the patty, I threw on a slice of emmental cheese onto each patty. Emmental is a firm cheese, and takes a little time to melt properly, so it’s important to throw the cheese on the patty soon after flipping. After the first flip is also the time to start toasting those buns. Once toasted, I generously applied ketchup and mayo to the bottom bun, and ketchup and mustard to the top one.
Once the burger patties were done, I. threw them on the bottom buns and topped with lettuce, tomato, onion, jalapeno, and bacon, in that order. All that remained was to top with the bun, and press the burgers down with both hands a little to ensure that they kept together when eaten.
Note: check out the way the bread has collapsed around the patty, ensuring that burger doesn’t come apart during eating. One of the reasons for that is the fat (mayo) on the bottom bun, which prevents the patty juices from disintegrating the bun.
400 gms ground sirloin steak
400 gms ground ribeye steak
4 tbsp butter
4 hamburger rolls
4 leaves lettuce
2 tomatoes, sliced
1 onion, sliced
1 pickled jalapeno, sliced
4 slices emmental cheese
8 strips bacon
Oven Roasted Wedges
The potatoes are simple enough, they take forever to crisp though so make sure to preheat your oven while preparing them. First cut them into wedges. For some reason, wedges remind me of fingers. I would eat my own fingers if they tasted like these potato wedges. When they are cut, slather them with some olive oil, minced garlic, some parsley, and season with sea-salt and some fresh cracked pepper.
Pop them in the oven for 20 minutes. Take them out, shake them out a bit and flip them and pop them back in for 15 mins. You may have to do this two more times to get the yellow color and crisp on it if you want. They were wonderfully soft inside with the just perfect coating of gold on the outer edge. The little burnt bits of garlic and parsley made these potatoes a worthy side-kick to the Perfect Burger. Serve with garlic aioli and love yourself and the universe for deciding to make these potatoes.
The garlic aioli can be made according to your taste and whatever ingredients you have in the house. I suggest the use of herbs as they really spruce up the taste and give a fresh bite to the dip. I used some good old mayonnaise, minced garlic, olive oil, a smidgen of lime juice, some lime zest and more than a hint of parsley. Combine the ingredients together, dip your fingers in them and adjust according to your taste. Ta-dah! And that’s it for the first edition of The Succulent Ape & Cosmic Chef’s Cookups. Deputy chief of Potatoes, signing off!
Oven Roasted Potato Wedges w/ garlic & parsley
1 kg of potatoes
2 cloves garlic, minced
⅛ cup of parsley, minced
3 tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
For the garlic aioli
4 tbsp of mayonnaise
2 tbsp of olive oil
2 tbsp of lime juice
1 tsp lime zest
1 tsp parsley, minced
Salt and pepper to taste