Hamburgers are one of my all-time favorite foods. In fact, if I could just have a really good burger, a frosty Cosmopolitan, a reliable supply of Frango Mints and George Clooney I think I could be happy with those simple things for a very long time. Fortunately I can cook, and I live in Chicago (home of the Frangos). George must remain aspirational for now.
As I mentioned before, I grind my own beef. It’s easy and about 1000% safer than the pre-ground beef you buy in the store and especially the pre-formed patties they sell in huge quantities. Up until now I’ve used my food processor but I finally broke down and bought the meat grinder attachment to my KitchenAid mixer this week. At less than $40 it seemed like a good investment.
I was excited to break it out and give it a trial run with Keller’s burgers. And the results were excellent. Much more consistent than the food processor method and so ridiculously easy I wondered why I’d waited so long.
Keller’s burgers are amazingly uncomplicated, which is surprising from a man who was willing to ask so much of me for a humble crab cake. He also recommends grinding your own beef and, as I’ve read in other recipes, cautions you against handling it too much as you form it into patties. Other than that he doesn’t seem to bring anything new to the party.
In my estimation I over-cooked them. This is not my fault but the result of a long story involving chauffeuring a bunch of teens to the wrong movie theater that is far too boring to tell you. But the burgers paid the price and cooked and rested a little too long. So they were a tad dry. Especially for me as I like mine absolutely dripping with juice but the flavor was incredible.
Adapted from Ad Hoc at Home, by Thomas Keller
1-1/2 lbs. beef sirloin
12 oz. beef brisket
12 oz. beef chuck
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
Gray salt or coarse sea salt
Trim any excess fat or sinew from the meat, leaving about 1/4″ of fat. Cut all the meat into 1″ pieces and season with salt and pepper.
Grind the meat, alternating pieces of sirloin, brisket, and chuck. [Keller tells you to run a piece of plastic wrap through the grinder when you’re done to clean it and force out the last bits of meat — and I did it — but it made me nervous and seemed unnecessary].
Divide the meat into 6 portions. Handling it gently, form it into 3/4″ to 1″ burgers. Do not squeeze, mash, or overwork the meat.
Prepare a charcoal or gas grill for two-temperature cooking, with one area for medium-high heat and the other for medium heat. Put the hamburgers over medium-high heat and cook, without moving for 2 minutes, or until they are well marked. (Do not move them too early; they need to cook long enough to prevent sticking to the grate). Turn the hamburgers 90 degrees to make a crosshatch pattern and grill for 2 minutes. Flip the hamburgers over, move to the medium heat, and grill, without moving them, for 5 minutes. Turn the hamburgers 90 degrees and cook for another 4-5 minutes. Transfer to a platter, and let rest in a warm spot for about 10 minutes for medium-rare.