The perfect burger?

burger

We’re constantly searching for the best, and leading the field so far is the wagyu and Angus version at Dubai’s Margaux Restaurant. So we asked its creator, Jason Oakley, to tell us how to make our own better burger.

The Bun
“This is always the subject of emotional controversy! I like to brush the bun with garlic butter and toast it. This gives it more flavour and forms a crust that prevents the rest of the bun from absorbing the other condiments, which would render it soggy. Finally, it helps to warm and soften the bread. At the restaurant we make our own buns and at home, if I have time, I will make a brioche bun because it is quite simple compared to other breads.  “From an aesthetic point of view the simple shiny clean look is popular but I like the added value of flavour. Grating fresh cheese on top and baking it so that the cheese melts and slightly caramelises on top is always a crowd pleaser.”

The Patty
“The patty needs to be as simple as possible, so quality ingredients are key. The ratio mostly commonly used is a blend of 80 percent beef and 20 percent fat. “Ground sirloin might cost a bit more but is well worth it. It is also important to purchase whole unadulterated beef, and then either grind it yourself or have the butcher do it. Avoid pre-ground beef whenever possible. “Add fresh cracked black pepper, sea salt, Worcestershire sauce, a spoonful of Dijon mustard, ketchup and then mix well. Firmly press the patties to keep them from falling apart on the grill and marinate in the refrigerator for an hour or so before cooking.”

The Cheese
“The choice of cheese is predicated on what type of burger you’re in the mood for. Gruyere cheese is one of my personal favourites for a burger but aged cheddar also works well. Basically, avoid any pre-sliced cheese wrapped in cellophane or anything with cartoon cows on the box — you’re better than that!”

Cooking the meat
“When you are ready to cook, pull the burgers from the refrigerator and make sure they are firm and well chilled. If cooking indoors, preheat a heavy bottomed pan (Cruset and Staub are excellent choices) as these types of pans will ensure the temperature is distributed properly. Pour in some olive oil to glaze the surface of the pan and to prevent the beef from sticking in the early stages of searing. Make sure the pan is on a medium high heat (not too hot as it will cause the sugars in the ketchup to burn, imparting a bitter flavour). “Place the patties in the pan and let them cook on one side for approximately two and half minutes. Do not touch them at this stage! Let them cook. Flip them over and continue to cook for another three minutes. Avoid pressing them with a spatula as this will release the juices, making the burger dry and crumbly. At the last minute, as a nice added touch (although not necessary), I like to add a pat of butter, crushed garlic clove and a sprig of thyme. Baste the burgers to incorporate the flavour and aroma until the butter slightly browns. Remove from the pan and place on paper towels to absorb any excess fat.”

The Relish (and other toppings)
“The relish should always be a flavour enhancer to the burger. Depending on the style of burger you are creating, something sour or earthy can come into play here. Nice fresh homemade cucumber pickles, sautéed seasonal mushrooms or even the noble black truffle can be a wonderful addition, although not for the everyday burger.”

Brioche bun:
INGREDIENTS:

  • 750g flour
  • 60g sugar
  • 12g salt
  • 12g yeast
  • 5 whole eggs
  • 100g milk
  • 75g butter

PROCESS:
Combine the butter, salt, sugar and milk together in a saucepan warm enough to melt the butter. Once all ingredients are melted and dissolved, add the yeast. Place the flour in the bowl of the mixer and slowly incorporate the milk mixture. Once fully integrated add the eggs one at a time until emulsified in the dough. Portion the dough into desired weight, cover and proof in a warm place for approximately one hour. Pre-heat the oven to 180 Celsius. Brush the dough with an egg wash and sprinkle with any desired seasoning. Bake for eight minutes.

THREE TO TRY

BLUE CHEESE BURGER at GOURMET BURGER KITCHEN
A 100 percent Aberdeen Angus patty, slathered in melted blue stilton with mayo, relish and just a hint of salad. Trust us, we’ve researched this burger at least 15 times this year.

SMOKEHOUSE DOUBLE at JOHNNY ROCKETS
With 990 calories and 59 grams of fat this is the reason your cardiologist drives a Porsche, but once in a while it fills the hole that love, family or friendship can’t. It’s cheap fast food that acts as a soul hug.

WAGYU BURGER at MARGAUX
Wagyu and Prime Angus, seasoned with herbs and spices, topped with roasted red and yellow pepper, stewed with smoked duck, onions, garlic and smoked paprika tomato. Oh yeah.

For Esquire magazine, July 2011

For original PDF click here – Perfect burger

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