Who doesn’t love a good burger? It’s the perfect vehicle for a myriad of ingredients. You name it; you can put it on a burger. There are so many choices of buns, condiments, cheeses, spices, and toppings from avocados to zucchini. Chicago has some well-known burger restaurants and most people are pretty passionate about their favorite.
However, I’ve made two different hamburgers recently that are brag worthy, if I do say so myself. One of these burgers I documented from start to finish for you. The other I just caught a picture of the final showpiece before eating.
First, you’ll need good quality ground beef. If you have a local butcher shop, I recommend going there; somewhere you know the meat is fresh. The color of the beef should be bright red. Never buy the ‘pre-seasoned’ burgers. Those are the products that have been in the display case for a few days and are beginning to oxidize, so they ‘season’ them to cover up the discoloration of the beef. One of my favorite seasoning blends is the Knox brand Cracked Black Pepper Rub, which we carry at The Chopping Block.
Second, I think about the bun. What flavors/textures do I want: pretzel, brioche, potato, sesame, ciabatta? Then, there’s cheese. Should I choose the old faithful cheddar? What about pepper jack or Gruyere? The combinations of ingredients are endless. Don’t’ get me started! Here’s what I made the other day.
Chef Carrie’s Burger
1 lb ground beef
4 oz Danish bacon
1 large shallot, sliced
4 slices sharp cheddar
Homemade sweet pickles
Whole grain mustard
1 T Butter
2 Ciabatta rolls
- Place thick Danish bacon slices in cast iron skillet and cook over low flame until fully cooked. Do not preheat the skillet before cooking bacon. The bacon will cook more evenly by heating up with the skillet. Add the shallots to the skillet when the bacon is cooked halfway. Stir occasionally. They will caramelize in the bacon fat while the bacon finishes cooking through.
- As the bacon cooks, divide beef into 8 oz portions. Gently begin to form into a ball, placing ½ Tablespoon of butter in the center. This little trick ensures that the burger doesn’t dry out.
- Don’t overwork the beef. The more you press and mess with it, the tougher the burger will be. Work it until it just holds its shape.
- Season both sides of the burger generously with salt and pepper. Use a little more seasoning than you think. You will lose some seasoning in the pan.
- Remove cooked bacon and caramelized shallots from the skillet, leaving the bacon fat. Place the ciabatta buns, cut side down in the skillet to toast in the bacon fat.
- Once the buns are toasted, place the burgers in the skillet. Do not touch for approximately 5 minutes.
- The first side should be GBD (Golden Brown and Delicious) before you even think about flipping it over. ONLY FLIP ONCE! Never press the burger with your spatula. You’ll just press all the juices out of it and wind up with a tough, dry, flavorless burger.
- After approximately two minutes, add the cheese to the top of the burgers so it will melt as the burger cooks.
- While the cheese melts, spread mayo and mustard on each half of the bun. Add pickles and caramelized shallots to top half of bun.
- Place cooked burger directly from pan onto bottom half of bun. The bottom half of the bun will absorb all the lovely juices as the burger rests.
- Let the burger rest for approximately 5 minutes before devouring!
Here’s a shot of the other burger: Brioche bun, bacon, watercress, mayo, whole grain mustard, pickles and Gruyere.
If you want to talk burgers, join me at our upcoming Big Green Egg Grilling Kickoff Show at Lincoln Square. We’ll be grilling/smoking sliders, ribs, pork shoulder, pizzas, sausages and vegetables. I’ll be working our Big Green Eggs all day so stop by and we’ll discuss burgers! Learn more about this free event.