The Gooder Burger

With warm season get-togethers coming up, the mighty burger is a backyard party staple. They’re easy, fun to grill and can be customized to appease most tastebuds.
Purchase 2.25 pounds of ground meat with a lean to fat ratio of 80:20 from a reputable grocery store or butcher.

(Step 1) Place it in a metal bowl. With your fingers, delicately start to separate the meat into smaller bits. Do not overwork the meat, but be diligent to get it sufficiently separated.

To the ground beef, add 1 tablespoon of ground paprika, 2 teaspoons of granulated garlic and 2 tablespoons of worchestire sauce. With only your fingers, gently fluff the mixture to blend all of the ingredients.

Being incredibly gentle with the ground beef will help yield a much more texturally appealing final product, so it doesn’t feel like you’re biting into a hockey puck.

(Step 2) Time to form the patties. Divide your mixture in the bowl into 6 round balls — they should be about the size of tennis balls. Start to flatten them using your fingers, gently pressing into the palm of your hand.

Some cracks will form around the edge. Simply mend those cracks by bringing the meat together where they appear.

The reason you want to be gentle forming the patties is to make sure you preserve the tiny air pockets that exist in the ground beef. These pockets allow some of the flavorful fat to remain inside the patty.

Once the patties are formed, put them on a plate. I like to use parchment paper for this so they don’t stick to the plate.

Place them in the refrigerator for at least one hour so they can set up and hold their shape during the cooking process.

(Step 3) In a small saucepan, add 1 tablespoon of olive oil and allow it to heat up. To that oil, add half a red or yellow onion, thinly sliced, and cook until translucent. Add a pinch of coarse salt and black pepper. Then add a quarter cup of some leftover red wine from the other day, 2 tablespoons of red wine vinegar and 2 tablespoons of granulated or raw sugar.

On medium heat, allow the onion mixture to cook until most of the liquid has evaporated (about 20 minutes). Be careful not to burn it. Once evaporated, set aside to cool. Onion jam can be served on the burgers either warm or cold.]

(Step 4) Now I can only assume everyone knows how to cook bacon. But in case you don’t, it’s ok, I won’t tell anyone.

Simply preheat your oven to 350F. On a small sheet pan, cover with a piece of parchment paper. Top it with separated slices of bacon. Place in oven for about 20-25 minutes or until the bacon is done to your desired doneness. I strongly encourage checking the bacon often towards the end of its cooking time to reduce the risk of having it burn.

I recommend a nice bleu cheese for this recipe. Choose the flavor you want on the spectrum from a sharp Gorgonzola that will strip the enamel off your teeth to a gentler French Bleu. I enjoy using Valdeon bleu cheese from Spain for this recipe. It has a lot of the tangy bleu characteristics while staying quite mild in sharpness.

(Step 5) To cook the burger, you can choose to do it on a grill or in a cast iron pan. Either way, make sure there’s quite a bit of heat. Preheat the grill or cast iron pan to medium high.

Cook the patties on the hottest area of the grill. If there is a flare up, don’t panic. Simply transfer them to a cooler area of the grill until the fire subsides.

If using a cast iron pan, pour in 1 tablespoon of oil before placing the patties on to cook. Three minutes per side should be sufficient.

After you flip the patties on the grill or in the pan, lay a generous amount of cheese on to melt.

(Step 6) Toast the burger buns on the grill until golden brown.

(Step 7) To assemble, place the patty with the melted cheese on the bottom bun and place two strips of bacon on top of the cheese. With a spoon, pour the thick onion jam on top of the bacon and then place the top bun to finish the assembly.


The Quick Version

Things you’ll need: 2.25 lbs ground beef, 12 slices of bacon, 6 burger buns, ½ onion, ¼ cup red wine, 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar, 2 tablespoons sugar, 2 tablespoons olive oil, 2 tablespoon paprika, 2 teaspoons granulated garlic, 2 tablespoons worchestire sauce, salt and pepper to taste.

(Step 1) Seasoning and imparting flavor into the ground beef.
(Step 2) Gently forming burger patties to avoid hockey puck syndrome.
(Step 3) Make onion jam.
(Step 4) Cook of the bacon.
(Step 5) Preheat grill or cast iron pan to allow maximum amount of heat necessary to give the burger patties a nice crust.
(Step 6) Toast buns golden brown.
(Step 7) Assemble the burgers.

-Martin Musialczyk