This weekend, I tried a second incarnation of the Butter Burger. It, too, was delicious, though my memory of the level of deliciousness of this version versus the previous version isn’t good enough to declare a winner. And there are yet more versions to come! I think probably this will all have to end with a giant butter burger face-off. It will be epic.
But in the meantime, I thought I’d take the opportunity to discuss a little about how to make a burger, butter or not (I already discussed the idea behind the butter burger in my earlier post). So here, the big three things to keep in mind when making burgers:
1. The Meat – Though you may cringe, you want some fat in your meat, which will help keep the burger moist. This is less of an issue if you throw a pat of butter in the middle of your patty, but the moister the better, right? Ground beef comes in different cuts (most commonly, ground chuck and ground sirloin) and different levels of fat (listed as percentages of fat or lean). I use ground chuck that is 20% fat (80% lean); it is easy to find in the supermarket, and has just about the right flavor and fat content. You’ll only do much better by grinding meat yourself, which is what most restaurants – and particularly enterprising individuals – do. You can experiment, though, with ground sirloin, which is also widely sold at supermarkets; maybe even make your own blend of the two? The one thing to avoid is “ground hamburger,” which is basically the hot dog of hamburger meat. You never know what you’re going to get with that one.
2. The Seasoning – If you have good meat and good assembly/grilling, you shouldn’t need a ton of seasoning. For these burgers, I mixed in a liberal dosing of Worcestershire sauce, a fair amount of salt, and a lot of freshly ground black pepper. I would also consider some diced onions (these were for a large group of people, so I didn’t want to inflict that on them if they didn’t want it) or garlic powder (NOT garlic salt). You can obviously get more creative with this, but I prefer mine pretty basic, to let the meat and the grilling speak for themselves. Also, and this may be controversial, I taste my seasoned raw beef to see if I want to add more. And then I taste it again. And I haven’t died – or even gotten sick – yet.
3. Assembly – Here is the overlooked trick of burger-making: the assembly of the patties matters! Meat will get tough if it is overworked, so use a light hand when mixing in the seasonings (and try to just do it once or twice). Similarly, when you are making the patties themselves, you don’t need to pack them down into hockey pucks; just a couple light pats will shape them and keep them nice and airy. Light touch. Light touch.
And with those tips, here is the recipe – if you can even call it that – for Butter Burger #2:
Butter Burgers, Version Two
(makes 20 quarter-pound burgers)
5 lb. ground beef, preferably 80% lean ground chuck
2 sticks butter, each cut into 10 pats
Worcestershire Sauce, to your preference
Salt, your preference
Freshly ground black pepper, again your preference, but it should be a lot
1. Using your hands (light touch!), mix seasonings into beef in a large bowl.
2. Form a small patty. Burrow out a hole in the middle of the patty and nestle butter pat into the hole. Cover over with beef.
3. Repeat 19 more times.