US: The perfect burger and all its parts
Posted: June 30th, 2009 - 11:08pm
Source: The New York Times
The simple hamburger isn’t so simple any more.
Over the last decade or so, there has hardly been a serious chef in America who hasn’t taken a shot at reinventing or improving it. They have trained their skills on every element, from the precise grind of beef to the ketchup and pickles. Some have turned their bakers loose on reformulating the bun.
By most accounts, the burger’s upward journey began eight years ago, when Daniel Boulud stuffed ground sirloin with truffles, braised short ribs and foie gras at his DB Bistro Moderne in Manhattan.
There’s a lot you can learn from a man who’s griddled thousands of burgers. Michael David, executive chef at Comme Ça brasserie in Los Angeles, had already earned his burger stripes on the team that developed Mr. Boulud’s French-American DB Burger.
At Comme Ça, Mr. David finally nailed the consummate burger on the 11th try.
The genius of his Comme Ça burger is that it is consistently juicy, perfectly seasoned and precisely medium-rare. The patty is charred on the outside and rosy pink from edge to edge.
It is a radical improvement on what most people already do, but it’s not much more complicated. His trick is to treat the burger the way many chefs do a steak.
He puts a good hard sear on both sides using his plancha, the freight train of flat tops, then transfers it to a 375-degree oven to finish cooking. After it comes out, there’s a built-in resting period while he toasts the buns and makes a last-minute lettuce salad.
After a whole bunch of food porn about buying and shaping beef, the story says that testing for doneness is always a challenge for the home cook. Seamus Mullen, the chef and an owner of the Boqueria restaurants in the Flatiron district and SoHo, uses a wire cake tester. (Any thin, straight piece of metal will work as well.)
“We stick it in the middle through the side,” he said. “If it’s barely warm to the lips, it’s rare. If it’s like bath water, it’s medium rare. The temperature will never lie. It takes the guesswork out of everything.”
(then use a digital, tip-sensitive thermometer – dp).