Best Burger Ever
We would like to introduce our readers to Mat Clouser, an Austin, Texas chef. He has a wonderful resume, which means for a chef, that he has a hard time holding down steady work. A self-proclaimed "chef, dog wrangler, and pirate extraordinaire", Mat will join us every week or so to discuss his culinary observations as well as give us some kick-ass recipes. He is currently responsible for the repositioning of an Austin dining institution and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org .
This week Mat is gonna hit us upside our culinary heads with a gourmet treatment of the simplest, most dear food, the cheeseburger. It's not the simplest recipe, but it just might be the best.
12 strips good smoked bacon (Neuske’s, Pederson’s, or Applegate Farms)
2 slices whole wheat bread without crusts
2 oz whole milk
1 ¾ lbs ground beef (85% lean at the most- if you opt for grass fed beef the fat is heart healthy)
2 tsp salt
2 tsp fresh cracked pepper
2-3 minced or pressed garlic cloves (1 ½ tablespoons)
1/2 tsp each chopped rosemary, sage, and thyme
1 T Chimayo chili powder
1/2 T Worcestershire sauce
1/2 T spicy mustard
4 medium slices sharp cheddar (Grafton village or Cabot)
4 buns or rolls (Try toasted Kaiser Rolls or Hawaiian rolls)
Additional fixings as you like it! (Try Bibb lettuce, grilled onions, and Beaver brand jalapeno mustard)
1- Crisp the bacon, making sure to SAVE THE FAT. This is going back into the patties. Set the bacon aside on paper towels to dry. (Your Uncle’s going to rue the day he trifled with you!)
2- Soak the bread and milk until totally saturated, about 3-4 minutes. This is called a panade and it is classically used to bind meatballs. It will ensure that your burgers don’t fall apart, and that all that delicious juice stays INSIDE the burger.
3- Using your hands, or a fork, begin mixing the meat, salt, pepper, panade, bacon grease, garlic, herbs, chili, mustard, and Worcestershire until fully incorporated and sticky. (If need be, you can add a touch more bread.)
4- Separate the meat into four equal portions. Form these portions into ¾ inch thick patties. These will be ½ pound burgers. On a grill, thin patties will dry out and thick patties will turn into meatballs. You’ll find the balance.
5- For a perfect medium cook on one side until you begin to see juices rising to the top. Flip. When you begin to see signs of moisture on the other side cover with the bacon and the cheese. Cover the patties at this point for a minute or two until cheese is nicely melted.
6- Set burgers in a warm spot for 5 minutes before eating. (Anywhere in Austin in the summer qualifies as a warm spot.) The meat needs to rest so that all the juices have time to return to the center of the meat. If you don’t do this all of it will pour out when you bite into it. Thereby undoing all the hard work to this point, not to mention people will laugh at you.
7- EAT! Then take your delicious burger slathered hands and go to McDonald’s so they can experience what a real burger smells like.