Burgers, Burgers, Burgers Everywhere
There is something ethereal, yet unpretentious and simple about the burger. At its Ron Swanson most pure form – it’s meat on a bun, put ketchup on it if you like, I don’t care. It can be dressed up, shaken down, deconstructed or completely up-ended. My friend the Burger Beast is even making a living off the damn things.
That’s why this weekend, the Brickell Life crew decided to throw down an Iron Chef style Battle Burger. Basically, we were all just looking for some reason to drink some beers and wine by the pool and Biscayne Bay, and well, burgers just seem to fit the mid-summer vibe.
Your’s truly, Brickell Life, managed to pull off the victory with a nod to the classic bacon cheeseburger, but topped off with a fried quail egg – basically grown up people’s mayonnaise. Other entries included dry-aged ribeye burgers topped with decadent bone marrow, truffled chuck burgers with seared foie gras, and lamb/feta burgers with greek yogurt sauce. Needless to say, nobody left hungry and three-year olds ate bone marrow alongside hot dogs and chips.
Pictures of some of the food and good times are below along with a quick recipe recap of our winning burger. Summer living in Miami does not get any easier. Much love to all who attended, cooked and watched the sun curve over Biscayne Bay.
|Brickell Life’s Short Rib and Brisket Slider topped with applewood smoked bacon, white American cheese, plum tomato, red leaf lettuce and fried quail egg on toasted challah roll.|
|Roasted Bone Marrow and 20-day Dry Aged Ribeye Burger|
|The Lamb and Feta Burger with yogurt sauce on grilled olive toast|
|Just sitting on the dock by the bay…..|
Classic Bacon Cheeseburger Sliders
Beef – 50% ground boneless short rib and 50% ground brisket. Buy equal amounts of each cut of beef.
Cracked black pepper
White American cheese
Red leaf or butter lettuce
Applewood smoked bacon
Challah or brioche slider rolls/buns
Remove silver skin and trim any excess fat from both cuts of meat. Cut both kinds of beef into approximately 1-inch cubes and keep in separate bowls/bags based on individual cuts of beef. Place each bowl/bag into the freezer for approximately 15-20 minutes along with the blade of your food processor. If you have one of those fancy grinding attachments for a Cuisinart mixer, you can go that route, but a simple food processor will do the trick for great backyard burgers. Then place meat cubes, still keeping them separate, into food processor and process in small batches, ideally no more than 1/2 pound at a time to ensure an even grind. Pulse in short 1-to-2 second bursts until the desired consistency is achieved, usually about 10-15 pulses.
Its important to pulse instead of letting the food processor run because pulsing tends to distribute the meat more evenly and avoids the excess heat that the blade can produce while running full blast, which can turn your beef into melted fat mush. Not good eats. Once you’ve ground your beef, you can loosely combine both cuts of ground beef in a large bowl and set back in the fridge until you’re ready to make your patties. Grind fresh if possible and cook that day. Sure you can save it and even freeze the ground beef, but the sizzle of fresh ground beef is where burger magic tends to happen.
When you’re ready to shape the patties remember – don’t pack. Slapping that burger around is bad for business. Just shape a loose ball of meat in your hand and just press gently to form a patty. The more you pack, the denser the burger and the more potential for shrinkage. Shrinkage does not benefit anyone, come on now.
Aim for patties about a 1/2 inch thick. Season liberally with kosher salt and cracked black pepper only and only right before your grill. It will help give them a nice crust, while not drawing out precious juices before hitting the cooking surface. Grill them over the barbecue or sear them on cast iron or on a griddle. Never squish your burgers with a spatula, which forces the juices out. Only turn the burger once. I like my burgers a perfect medium. Cook to your tastes. If your burgers sometimes bulge in the middle, just make a little indentation in the middle of the patty before you cook so a nice even burger forms after cooking. There is some scientific explanation based on the laws of quantum physics as to why your burger does this, but I’m too lazy to look it up on the Google machine right now. Feel free to do that research on your own time.
You can certainly top your burgers however you want, but if you want to mimic my Brickell Life winning slider above, make sure you’re frying quail eggs after the first flip of the burger to ensure everything is hitting the bun warm. We used quail eggs because burgers were slider sized. Otherwise, regular eggs will work on a full-sized version. You can cook the bacon before the burgers to make prepping easier, but just make sure you bring it up to temperature so its warm before hitting the plate. Also, a toasted bun is a nice touch. Lightly butter the inside of each bun and grill ever so slightly so the inside of the bread is nice an toasty and acts as a barrier to soft, squishiness of the rest of the bread. I like challah or brioche for my burgers. Great buttery, sweet, eggy bread is the way I get down to burger business. Place the cooked bacon on to the burger and melt the cheese on the burger after you flip the patty. To plate, I like bottom bun, burger w/ bacon and melted cheese, lettuce, tomato, fried egg and the top bun just tilted off to the side so everyone sees what they are getting themselves into.
You can add ketchup and stuff if you like, but I’m going to be honest, your burger won’t need it if you seasoned it liberally and used really good ingredients.
That’s about it. Most important part is the beef. It’s the star of the show, so if you take your time and use good ingredients, it will probably go down pretty smooth with a cold beer on a Sunday afternoon.