Engineering the Burger

First Published in CAMPUS magazine, May 2009

We all love a good burger. As the (self proclaimed) King of Burgers so insightfully points out, we each like to have it our own way. I’ve known people who like to add peanut butter and bacon to their burgers; others go for exotic flavors, like Thai-flavored oysters or top off their patty with a gratin of blue cheese, Porcini and wild mushrooms. There are stuffed burgers, too; and that just opens up a whole new can of whoop-ass, so I’ll leave you to your imagination about what could possibly be stuffed into a burger patty.

Holy Grail inside.

Heston Blumenthal, arguably the world’s most insane chef, endeavored to create his “perfect Hamburger” on his TV show “In Search of Perfection”. During the course of that episode, Heston went to the birthplace of the burger, and one of my favorite places on earth, Louis’ Lunch in New Haven Connecticut. While closer in appearance and preparation to the Patty Melt, the basic concept of the Burger was there. Ground Meat. Vegetable Topping. Bread.

By sticking to this basic blueprint, you can flawlessly construct the burger; all that remains is mastering the individual processes involved. So, before you go off and start making a mess in the kitchen, here are a few things to consider:

  1. The key to making a perfect anything is in the ingredients. Fresh buns and veggies are always best, and leave the veggies off the burger until the very last minute – this way; they won’t go limp from the heat of the patty.
  2. Do not be lazy. Get freshly ground beef from your butcher. A mixture of 35% Tenderloin (Filet) or Ribeye (Entrecote), 50% Chuck (aka Kandooz) and 15% beef fat has yielded fantastic results for me. The hamburger is not a healthy option, and Fat is Flavor. Make sure it is all ground together ONCE – this will give your burger a nice open texture, and won’t grind the moisture out of the patty before it hits the pan.
  3. Take the time to form the perfect patty. Take tuna can, and remove the top and bottom, leaving a ring. Take a handful of the ground beef and lightly pack it into the desired thickness, taking care not to press too hard so you don’t squeeze out the moisture and preserve the texture of the ground beef.
  4. Do not squeeze or press on the patty when it’s cooking. Pressing down forces out precious moisture and condemns your burger to a dry and broken death. Treat it like a nice steak – you wouldn’t press down on a Beef filet like a ham-fisted oaf, would you?
  5. Let the Burger “rest” for 5 minutes after removing from the pan. This allows the meat to relax a little and fully develop that beefy flavor.
  6. Toast your buns, or better yet, just fry the insides in the pan you used to fry the burger – the bun will catch all that great beef fat that melted off the burger and really take your creation to the next level.
  7. Eat it quickly. Burger Envy has been known to topple civilizations, remember Atlantis? They made a mean burger and look what happened to them: forever condemned to eating Fish Fillet sandwiches.


The Great American Cheeseburger

300gm Fresh Ground Beef [Half Sirloin, Half Chuck], formed into 2 Beef Patties, 3 inches in diameter and 3/4 inch in thickness
1 Small white onion, thinly sliced
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
1 small tomato, thinly sliced
1 leaf of Lettuce (Romaine or Iceberg is fine) sliced thinly.
4 slices of American Cheddar Cheese
2 Hamburger Buns
Mustard, Mayonnaise, Ketchup
Salt, Pepper
1 TBSP oil
Melted butter
  • Heat a non-stick pan on the stove top on high heat, and add oil.
  • Season the patties with salt and pepper, and add to the hot pan, turning once after 90 seconds. After another 90 seconds, keep flipping the burgers every 30 seconds for another 2 minutes (for medium well). Brush with melted butter, and remove from the pan, and place it on a warm plate to rest.
  • Meanwhile, take the cut surface of the buns, and brush with the hot oil from the pan, and place them face down to toast on the pan for about 2 minutes.
  • Begin constructing the burger.  From the bottom up, spread mayonnaise, add lettuce, then mustard. Place beef patty, top with tomato and onions and ketchup.
  • Serve with a side of crispy fries.
  • Devour.

About Wesam E Masoud
Chef Patron of @chefsmarketmasr, Host of @CBCSofra's #matbakh101. I have one degree in Medicine & 3rd degree burns from cooking.

One Response to Engineering the Burger

  1. Sayed Kawawi says:

    The best burger hands down is McDonnie’s!

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