Building the perfect burger is an art that seasoned barbecue aficionados have been working on for decades.
"My ultimate burger would have to be a classic cheeseburger, perfectly cooked medium rare."
Recently, the humble burger has expanded from just a meat patty in a bun. Burger joints all over the country offer everything from towering Man vs. Food-esque meat mountains, to plates of sliders featuring charcoal-buns and Wagyu beef burgers, and not forgetting trendy brioche buns topped with avo, sriracha and served up with a hoppy craft beer.
But the principles of what makes the perfect burger remain the same: selecting the best bread for your bun, preparing and cooking juicy not crumbly burgers and topping off with a careful balance of condiments.
We’ve recruited the help of a couple of burger experts who have shared some of their TOP tips to turn the humble cook into king of the grill!
Founder of Tommi’s Burger Joint, Tomas Tómasson's favourite burger is a classic, “I am not a fan of messy burgers. My ultimate burger would have to be a classic cheeseburger, perfectly cooked medium rare, perfectly seasoned, with melted cheese, crispy lettuce, tomato and onion."
And our very own Food Editor Gregor McMaster; "I love a classic beef burger with blue cheese and a piece of crispy streaky bacon in an old school sesame bun. The Extra Special seasoned Beef Burger works well for this as it will remain juicy and sit perfectly underneath the crispy bacon."
For the carnivores there are many burger options – lamb, chicken, turkey, even venison but the most common, and arguably the greatest filling is BEEF! Tommi is certainly a beef fan; “I like a well marbled piece of meat, coarsely ground with enough added fat to make it around 20% minimum. Fat carries flavour and juice so a lean burger will be a dry and tasteless affair.”
For lovely marbled meat, try our Extra Special Wagyu beef burgers. Wagyu is melt in the mouth and works perfectly in burger form. Or if you like caramelised onions and a bit of sweetness in your burger try our Extra Special Caramelised Rosanna Pink Onion Burgers. The sweetness of the delicate onions would go perfectly with a nice salty blue cheese like Gorgonzola.
If you're making your own burgers, follow Gregor's tips to achive barbecued perfection....
- Season with whatever flavours you fancy, add in dry spices and herbs, onion, garlic, Worcestershire sauce, tomato ketchup, caramelised onion or sweet chilli to give your burger a twist
- To check the seasoning of your burger fry a little bit of the mix in a pan, taste and season accordingly
- Make sure your BBQ is already very hot before adding the meat, this will stop it from sticking or falling apart
- When shaping the burger make it slightly bigger than the bun and slightly less than 1inch thick. As the burger cooks it will shrink slightly in size to fit your bun perfectly
- After making the burger place it in the fridge for a minimum of 1hour so it holds its shape better when cooked
- Cook evenly on both sides to get a juicy burger all the way through and try to only flip once
- Rest the burgers for 5mins before serving to let the meat relax, giving a softer, juicier texture that melts in the mouth
- If you’re using a low fat mince add an egg yolk to the mixture for extra moisture that will help bind the meat together
THE VEGGIE OPTION
There are so many veggie burger options. You could opt for a whole barbecued giant mushroom, like the fresh, seasonal mushroom and peach burger pictured below, or experiment with veggie burgers.
Tommi says “I prefer a bean based burger”. We love these easy bean burgers made with Adzuki beans, sun-dried tomatoes and sweet chilli sauce. But there are so many other combinations you can try, like this quinoa and beetroot burger or how about these rather incredible halloumi burgers covered in breadcrumbs.
THE SALADY BITS
Pair your burger with different textures, lettuce or slaw for crunch and freshness, juicy tomatoes that absorb the flavour of the meat and sauces to soften the bread. Pickles and slaws add an acidity and tangy flavour to your burger that cuts through the richness of the meat.
Tommi says, “lettuce, tomato and onion are all essentials, although sometimes I really need just a plain burger, only meat and bun. That way I can really taste the beef without any disturbance."
Melting cheese on a burger is one of life’s pure pleasures. For Tommi, fancy cheese just doesn’t cut it…“I prefer the American style burger cheese. It melts perfectly and complements the beef.”
But for Gregor, a burger needs a strong cheese, "to stand up against the flavour of the meat – try using Cheddar or gorgonzola. Thinly slice your cheese so it melts easily with the warmth of the burger."
The thing that holds it all together. The unsung hero of the burger. The bread.
Nowadays, burger joints are opting for sweet brioche to complement the very savoury burger but Tommi prefers a plain soft bun. He says, ‘I feel the brioche is too rich and steals the attention from the main star, which should be the patty itself.”
Top tip: If your burger buns have lost some freshness sprinkle them with water and place in a warm oven (180C) for 3-4mins until soft and warm and they’ll be as good as when you first bought them.
“Ketchup, mustard, mayo, all of it!” Says Tommi.
Ketchup will always be a winner. But there are so many other options nowadays that your burger can take on a multitude of different flavours. Get on board the Mexican food trend with this Lime and nacho chilli mayonnaise or go all out American with our Maple Bacon Flavour Ketchup and for chilli heads, try this Peppery and Punchy Jerk BBQ sauce.