Friday, June 03, 2011

Burger Quest

Run for cover! Getting ready to light!!!!
For years now, I have been on the quest for the perfect burger.

While I was working in the city, it was all about finding the perfect restaurant burger. I have been to Johnny Burger in Scarborough, and Apache on Queen West, as well as many places downtown, not to mention the regulars - Kelsey's, Montana's, Jack Astors, all the chains. They just don't have it over the little family run places.

The two notable mentions would have to be Tier Nan Og's in Kingston, with their Guinness burger, which has local Guinness marbled cheese, and BQM burger in downtown Toronto on Queen by Spadina. Ohhhh theirs are truly fantastic, best in Toronto by far, especially if it involves their aoli sauce.

But alas, this post is about the barbeque.

Ask me on any given weekend in the summer what I have planned, and no matter what I say it is underpinned by a theme of meat and flame.

The perfect burger starts with good beef. I use beef raised by my friends Cathy and Jeff on their land outside Brighton. It's great beef.  In a supermarket it would be considered a medium ground. I find the lean doesn't crisp up, and with the medium, the juice burns off, leaving a crispy textured char crust.

Naked burgers (pre-condiments), 2009.

I have in the past experimented with ingredients mixed into the beef in my burgers such as olive oil, eggs (not recommended, as they don't stick together) soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, HP sauce, garlic, onions, or cheese folded inside, but now I have a winning contender that I've been using so far this spring.

I add only liquid hickory smoke, Worcestershire sauce, and Chalula hot sauce (but not too much). It gives it a nice tang, but with a finishing flavor of smokey barbeque.

I hand form the patties a little larger than whatever bun I'm planning on using. They shrink a little on the grill, not as much with the medium ground, but with the lean especially. Then I pre-heat the grill. Using charcoal is a whole other post, as the ins and outs are difficult to explain. I used charcoal for years but now we have a propane barbeque and find the results are similar.

These ones had nice buns.
The grill needs to be hot, I use about 500'F, so that when the fat comes out it creates good flames underneath. I used to try to douse the flames with water (okay, beer ... use what's on hand) but now I try to move the patties around the flame to cook the insides and then finish them off over the flame when melting the cheese. It seals in the juices that way.

I prefer to melt the cheese on top and toast the buns all in one shot, but Jenn likes hers untoasted (heathen!). For cheese I usually just do what's in the fridge, medium cheddar or marble, but the best I had was last summer when I mixed goat's cheese with marble cheddar in tiny cubes so it melted together. 

The buns we've been liking lately are the PC thins, that hold together but lower our gluten and bulk. As you can see by the above pic, we're focusing on the meat anyway. In my mind, the bun is simply a vessel for meat and condiment transportation.

Yes, that's an English muffin. Surprisingly well suited.
Tonight's burger, however, was on an English muffin. See, it's been a long week, and sometimes we don't shop until Saturday as Jenn doesn't have her driver's license. So I scoured the pantry and this was all that was left. The muffin held up, and was less poufy than standard buns. I think I may even try it again.

Then comes the age old question: What do I put on it? In the past, cilantro, ketchup, mustard, relish, and many types of cheese, onion, fried onions, mushrooms, pretty much anything we fancy.

Tonight's was tomato, pickle, and cheese. I'm becoming a bit of a purist.

Jenn is saying now she wants to try a Mexican inspired burger, with guacamole and perhaps a salsa verde, with cilantro. Maybe tomorrow.... the quest continues.

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