A burger may be a sandwich, but it truly deserves its own category. A plain burger is like blank canvas just waiting for the artist to create a beautiful work of art.
There really aren’t any arbitrary rules that must be followed, which is the first step to any great piece of artwork. Do what makes you happy and settle for nothing less.
Typically, I lean towards the simple burger, cheese, spicy mustard, red onion, and bacon. It doesn’t need to tower on the plate like a giant redwood. I love tomato but have yet to find a way to stop it from sliding around, so I usually forgo it.
The Standard Burger
The Meat– I like to start with 90/10 ground chuck. If I’m feeling froggy, I’ll add in some ground brisket as well. 90/10 still has enough fat to hold the burger together, but not enough where the burger will shrink into a meatball on your grill.
I would refrain from anything less than 80/20. Too much fat won’t just cause your burger to shrink, but also make it super greasy. Fat is flavor, but too much fat is nauseating. Probably why I’m single.
When it’s time to season your meat, I prefer good sea salt, fresh ground pepper, and a little garlic powder. Don’t overdo this step. Less is more.
The Bun- There are quite a few choices you can make when it comes to the bread, but make sure it’s of decent quality. The worst thing when eating a burger is having it fall apart before you’re even halfway through it.
I’m a big fan of onion buns. When I can’t find those, I go with sourdough. It’s dense, but not as dense and heavy as brioche. You want it to hold up, but not have to chew it until your jaw falls off.
Toasting your buns is optional, however, it does a great job in sealing the bread and helping to hold it together once toppings and condiments are in place.
The Cheese- This is a hot button issue. No ‘cheese’ melts like American singles. That’s a fact and cannot be rebutted. American cheese singles may excel in melt factor but is severely lacking in quality and flavor. Yet, I still think it’s the best cheese for the job.
If you’re not into the whole processed cheese thing and want to eat ‘healthier’ cheese that won’t make you ‘sick’, then go with a cheese that has high milk content, like mild cheddar. I like extra sharp better, but it doesn’t melt as nicely.
The Toppings- This is where my opinion matters very little. Since there are no rules, I’ll just explain my thought process when building my cheeseburger.
As with most things I cook, I try to cross off as my textures and flavor profiles as possible for the ultimate experience. Cheese for creaminess and a touch of sweetness. Bacon for that savory, umami crunch factor. Red onion for crunch and a little bitterness. Jalapeno for the heat. Pickles bring out the tart flavor and help to settle the heat from the jalapenos.
The Condiments- Again, this is your show and there are far too many possibilities and combinations to cover. My burger almost always has some mayo on it. I love the sweet and slightly tart flavor it gives. On the other side I usually go with a spicy mustard or one of my 70 hot sauces. Just don’t overdo it. You want balance. Balance is key.
Never ketchup. Ketchup is for children. Grow up already. It’s time to move on to tomato jam.
Lastly, a fried over-easy egg on a burger is one of the most amazing gifts from the food heavens. It will get messy, but who cares about that, right?!
Some of My Faves
Recently, I found myself in possession of 3 big containers of burrata cheese. If you’re not familiar, it’s a cheese made from mozzarella, cream, and stretched-curd cheese. Basically, it’s a fresh mozz ball with a creamy center. I also had 4 packs of prosciutto. I decided to make a caprese burrata burger. Let me tell you, it did not disappoint.
Thick slice of heirloom tomato, raw red onion, burrata, crispy prosciutto, jalapeno-cilantro-mayo, a touch of spinach for color, and drizzled with balsamic reduction. *Chef’s Kiss*
If you ever find yourself in Ann Arbor or Detroit, MI, do yourself a favor and make a stop at Frita Batidos. They specialize in Cuban inspired burgers, sandwiches, and Batidos, which are tropical milkshakes with crushed ice, fresh fruit, and sweetened milk. The burgers are made with chorizo, which elevates it to the next level. I suggest to “Make It Loco” which is all of the toppings. It really is one of the most flavorful experiences I’ve ever had.
I attempted my own version with double chorizo patties, double muenster, pickled red onions, avocado smash, bacon, and a fried egg. This was my Magnum Opus of burgers. Every single topping was perfectly crafted to play off one another.
My idea of a “standard burger”. Smokey bacon, extra American cheese, pickles, red onion, and some lettuce for color and tricking my brain into thinking we’re having a salad.
Thanks for coming to my BED (Burgers Equal Delicious)Talk. Until next time, eat until you’re content and then eat some more.
Listening to: Apocalyptica- “Plays Metallica by Four Cellos”