Man has always been a hunter.
From stalking through the evening wilderness armed with a spear to darting past hundreds of recommendations on your Zomato screen, little has changed over the years – man finds food, man eats food – except, of course, quality . We hear of pure organic produce, farm-fresh ingredients, A-grade meat and so on –
So why is it that we settle for such mediocrity when we eat?
Observe the modern, fast food-stovetop burger. Quick, cheap and delicious might come to mind, but remember – you’re paying your hard-earned bucks on frozen, packed and shipped ingredients, mass-produced on something slightly more elaborate than a factory conveyor belt, peppered with a generous dose of preservatives and presented to you, more often than not, by rictus-grinned capitalism thanking you for your order.
It certainly is about time the modern man takes his control of his culinary life straight by the marbles – and what better way to begin than learning how to whip up your very own, unique burger recipe. Here are a few pointers to help make your masterpiece the talk of your dining table with family and friends:
- Pick Your Meat Well
Assuming that your choice is poultry, make sure that unless you’re cooking for a huge crowd and need to watch the budget, your protein is fresh and not frozen. Don’t be fooled by labels that make packages of ground chicken sound healthy, such as “lean” and “99% fat-free.” Chances are, they’re not. Instead, buy whole skinless chicken breast, and ask your butcher to grind it.
2. Neither over-work your burgers nor add a bunch of other stuff into the mix
First, burgers are already perfect as they are. Adding onions, herbs or sauces to the meat is only detracting from their inherent greatness. Secondly, adding ingredients means having to overwork the meat, warming up the fat in the burger which emulsifies it and makes the meat rubbery. No one wants a rubbery burger, especially with onions and herbs in it. Instead, lightly shape the burgers, top with a little salt and leave it alone – leave experimentation for when you’ve got more experience.
3. Don’t forget to dimple your burgers before cooking
It’s commonly thought that one should form a burger into a perfect patty, but this doesn’t account for the shrinking and expanding that happens to the meat as it cooks. Instead, shape the burger into a patty, then push a dimple into the centre. This tiny detail, called a ‘divot’, will create a perfectly flat burger when cooked making it so toppings stay in place when eating it. Those rounded burgers so common at amateur barbecues make topping burgers impossible – don’t make an easy-to-avoid mistake.
4. Watch the temperature
Cook your burgers to hell and back, and you’ll run the risk of ending up with drab rubbery and dry slabs of chicken on your bun. Our advice is to quickly sear your patty on both sides, flip em’ over and cook them on a lower heat. Simple timing is all it takes.
5. Keep your patrons in mind
Remember, the most important thing about home-cooked burgers is that they’re made just for the people invited. Remember to always ask your guests about their preference of doneness, from rare to well-done, their favourite ingredients and even allergies. A very popular choice is to prepare the patties and buns, and leave a spread of pre-assembled ingredients so that guests can pick and choose their preferred toppings, sauces and cheeses.
Remember, summer is coming. Tis’ the season to get grilling, after all.