Last week, while scrolling through emails on my phone, I came across a subject heading from Tasting Table that gave me pause: Never Grill a Burger Again.

And then a depressing image flashed through my head: me, hovering over a sauté pan, flipping burgers in my 100-degree kitchen as my guests reveled outside.

Did I dare make this vision a reality? How could I not? I’ve always considered burgers one of the hardest things to get right, and this post offered a path to burger domination. I followed the tutorial nearly to a T, and Ben, completely unaware of the experiments I had been conducting, declared it the best burger he’s ever eaten.

How to Make A Great Burger

  1. Sear burgers (as opposed to grill) in a heavy-bottomed pan to prevent fat from being lost, which leads to “a dried-out patty with a charred exterior.” Cooking the patty in fat helps keep the patties juicy.
  2. Use cold meat as opposed to room temperature to create a good sear.
  3. Tasting Table (and others) suggest using a mix of sirloin, chuck, and short rib. I can’t ever find the energy to go through this effort. I buy grass-fed beef locally or from ButcherBox.
  4. Make a sauce: the recipe included below is a mixture of pantry staples (mayonnaise, mustard, ketchup, minced pickles, cayenne and cornichons), a combination that is so much greater than the sum of its parts.
  5. Quick pickle some onions: thinly slice onions and macerated them in vinegar. These, I find, to be essential. Recipe below.
  6. Season aggressively with salt and pepper, use a neutral flavored oil, don’t overcook — depending on the size and thickness of your patties, the timing will vary and may take some trial and error to get right. For patties about an inch thick weighing five to six ounces each, four minutes a side over medium-high heat has become my magic formula for producing medium-rare burgers.
  7. Make brioche buns: This recipe is no-knead, foolproof, and delicious: Light Brioche Buns, Even Better.

To grill or not to grill? Weigh-in in the comments.

red onion

 

 

Two simple burger condiments: the sauce, a mixture of pantry staples, a combination that is so much greater than the sum of its parts, and the onions, thinly sliced briefly macerated in vinegar. These are essential. // alexandracooks.com

Hardwick grass-fed beef

seasoned with salt and pepper

cooking the burger

burger, resting

halved potato bun

sauced buns

burger

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Secret Sauce


  • Author: Alexandra
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Total Time: 5 minutes
  • Yield: 1/2 cup

Description

Source: Tasting Table


Ingredients

  • ⅓ cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped bread-and-butter pickles (didn’t have pickles; cornichons worked just fine)
  • ⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • ⅛ teaspoon sweet paprika (I only had smoked; it was delicious)

Instructions

  1. In a small mixing bowl, combine all ingredients and stir until blended. Put the sauce in the refrigerator until ready to use.



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Macerated Onions


  • Author: Alexandra
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Total Time: 20 minutes

Description

Source: Tasting Table


Ingredients

  • ½ red onion, thinly sliced lengthwise
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • Salt

Instructions

  1. In a small mixing bowl, combine the onions and vinegar. Season with salt and allow the onions to macerate until they have softened, about 15 minutes. Set aside until ready to use.