I have for some time been trying to create a beef patty that when you bite in to it feels like you’re sinking your teeth in to the brawniest Angus, after which the patty melts away like candy floss. To conjure such an illusion has taken much trial and error, as well as a little science.
I have tried many variations, including using binders such as breadcrumbs, panko crumbs, eggs, cornflour, tapioca flour…you name it I have tried it. I have also added various flavours, such as grated onion, tomato paste, garlic, and innumerable herbs and spices, but truth be known, and I am a pretty modest chap, all I have ever wanted was to have a beef burger that was, well just that, beef.
Two things have helped me significantly on my quest: a new mincer and understanding the binding process.
Firstly, now that I am the proud owner of a mincing attachment to a fairly popular brand of mixing device, I have been able to experiment with mincing various cuts of beef, and playing around with texture. From various experiments I have come to the conclusion that beef topside (from the hind quarter of the cow) is a great, and inexpensive, cut for mincing in to beef patties. To the topside I add (about 10-12% in total mix weight) pork back fat. The addition of the fat gives the burger a moister texture; with just topside I found the burger to be a little too dry. When mincing I ensure that the meat and grinding plates are cold – grinding meat when it is warm can cause it to become mushy and for it to lose its juices.
Secondly, salt binds protein and beef contains protein. So salt effectively holds the whole patty together. The level is crucial as too much salt will not only give you a burger that is unpalatable, but the patty will be too tough. Too little salt and the patty will just fall apart before it reaches your bun. The key, therefore, to binding that patty is to get the salt level just right ensuring that the salt seasons the burger perfectly too. I settled on a level of 1% of the total meat and fat content.
With the combination of topside and pork back fat, and an optimal salt level that gives a great balance between binding texture and seasoning the last major variable is how the meat is minced.
To do this I consulted notes from Mr Heston Blumenthal and discovered the ingenious method of mincing the meat so that it lays in the one direction. Usually beef is minced straight in to a bowl and becomes a random network of interlinked proteins. By mincing and laying the meat in one direction we create ‘strands’ of meat that traverse a horizontal plane. If we then create a cylindrical sausage from these ‘strands’ and cut the burgers as discs, when you actually bite through the burger you are effectively biting across the grain which means that the burgers break easily when chewed. Finally, it is worth noting that I use a coarse grinding (mincing) plate to give the desired texture.
So there we have it – a pure beef patty that melts in your mouth.
Delectable Burger with Honey Mustard SaucePrint
- For the Beef Patty:
- ■ 570g beef topside | Cut in to strips so that it is easy to mince. And make sure it is cold.
- ■ 70g pork back fat | Cut in to strips so that it is easy to mince. And make sure it is cold.
- ■ 6.4g sea salt | 1% of the weight of the meat and fat total. If using flaked salt grind it to a powder first.
- For the Honey Mustard:
- ■ 125g Dijon mustard | A good strong Dijon is required here.
- ■ 1 tbsp. honey | A great floral and fragrant honey adds real character to this sauce.
- ■ ¼tsp. lemon juice | Adds a hint of acidity.
- For the Burger:
- ■ 6 burger buns | I used Turkish bread in this recipe but use what floats your boat - brioche buns are particularly good.
- ■ 6 beef patties | As made above.
- ■ 1 tsp. each burger honey mustard sauce | As made above.
- ■ Salad, Pickles, Cheese etc. | Your call 🙂
Ensure that your topside, fat and grinding plate/ parts are really cold. Mince (coarse grinding plate) the beef and back fat into a bowl. Add the sea salt and mix well with your hands. Put the mince in the fridge for an hour. Also wash the grinding plate/ parts and put them in the freezer for an hour. After an hour take the mince out of the fridge and mould it into a few sausage shapes so that they easily fit into your mincer’s delivery tube.
Prepare a chopping board by laying two layers of cling-film (cling wrap) over it.
Add the mince ‘sausages’ to your mincer and begin to mince. This next part is crucial for the break-away texture. Hold the prepared chopping board up to the mincer. As the beef mince is being extruded ‘lay’ it in the same direction across the chopping board. Due to the interference of the mixer arm of my popular branded mixer I lay the mince along half the length of the chopping board and then turn it round and do the other half. The photo below is what you should end up with.
Now carefully wrap the cling film around the mince to form a cylindrical shape. Don’t’ wrap too tightly though. Put the mince in the fridge for another hour to set.
Remove the mince from the fridge and unwrap it. Now, very carefully using a sharp thin knife, cut the mince cylinder in to 6 even disc shapes. Take each disc and gently pat and mould into a burger shape, all the while bearing in mind that we are trying to keep the mince loose, yet bound.
To cook the patties, heat the oil in a hot heavy based frying pan and then add the patties. Flip them every 30 seconds to ensure an even cooking and heating. Cook them for about 5-6 minutes. The patties should be nicely browned and very slightly pink in the middle.
For the honey mustard sauce add the Dijon mustard, honey and lemon juice to a bowl. Whisk together for about a minute until smooth.
I served these burgers with Black Russian tomato, Lebanese cucumber, vintage cheddar and the honey mustard sauce. But it’s a burger so dress it to suit your fancy.