Perfecting the Ultimate Burger – Round One

My goal is to make the most ultimate, mouth-watering, who-cares-if-I-have-a-napkin-to-wipe-the-ketchup-off-my-face-it’s-so-good burger this summer.  I felt good about Round One, but I think there is always room for improvement, so this summer I’ll be documenting my burger escapades.  I think a really great burger is the sum of it’s parts.  It’s not just about the meat (which is very important), but also the bread and the fixings.  For today’s, I’m doing a bacon cheddar burger with pickled onions and a sweet and spicy ketchup. As a side note, when I went to the butcher store to get the meat and the bacon, the guy behind the counter asked me if I bought bacon every time I came in.  I’m not sure what it says about me that the butcher has noticed the large quantities of bacon I buy…

Cheddar Bacon Burger with Grilled Asparagus

Bacon Cheddar Burger with Pickled Onions and Sweet and Spicy Ketchup

  • 12 ounces of hamburger meat
  • 2 Buns (for this, I used a Kaiser role type bun)
  • 4-6 slices bacon
  • 2 slices sharp Cheddar
  • Pickled Onions (recipe below)
  • Sweet and Spicy Ketchup (recipe below)

Form meat into two patties.  Don’t pack them too hard – keep them a bit loose.  Salt and pepper each side liberally.

Cook bacon slices on pan in oven at 350 degress for about 13 minutes or until done.  Remove from pan and place on paper towel to pat off grease.

Cook burgers over grill about 3-4 minutes per side for a medium rare – to just medium burger.  If you like yours cooked more, keep cooking until you reach desired doneness.  (Though my opinion is anything above medium and you start to lose the actual taste of the burger.) In the last minute or two of cooking, add your cheddar cheese so it starts to get melty.

Let burger rest about 5 minutes before building your burger.

Toast buns about one minute per side.  To assemble burger, place burger on bottom bun.  Add bacon strips and about a tablespoon of pickled onions.  Slather top bun with ketchup.  Put together and devour!

Pickled Onions

  • 1/2 red onion, sliced thin
  • 1/4 cup white vinegar
  • 1 cup water
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • big pinch of salt

Mix vinegar, water, sugar and salt until sugar and salt dissolve.  Taste to make sure the brining mixture is to the level of “potency” you like.  Adjust if necessary to get it to your liking.  Let sit at least 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.  The onions you don’t use will keep in the fridge for at least a week.

Sweet and Spicy Ketchup

Adapted from Michael Symon’s Live to Cook

  • 1 small yellow onion, minced
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 jalapenos, seeded and minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 4 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 6-ounce can tomato paste
  • 3 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

Sweat the onion and garlic with a pinch of salt in the olive oil over medium heat  in a medium sized sauce pot for about 2 minutes.  Add the jalapenos and red pepper flakes.  Cook for a minute or two.  Add the brown sugar cumin, cinnamon, tomato paste, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, and mustard and simmer for about 10 minutes.  Add 3 cups water, bring to a gentle simmer, and cook over low heat for about 2 hours.

Remove from heat and let cook about 15 minutes.  Discard the cinnamon stick.  Puree the mixture in a blender.  Let cool, then cover, and refrigerate for up to one month.

My Sweet and Spicy Ketchup

My Notes:

  • Ground chuck or ground sirloin is fine.  If you can get your butcher to grind a chuck steak for you fresh right there, go for it.  I like a 20% fat content (it will say 80/20) – any less and it starts to dry out the burger.
  • To “sweat” something (often times vegetables), you want to cook it over a medium-ish heat.  It needs to be hot enough to cook the veggies, but not so hot that it browns it.  When you sweat food, you do not want the food to start browning – you want it to have more of a translucent, soft look.

2 responses to “Perfecting the Ultimate Burger – Round One

  1. Oh, this is a good challenge! I love that you made your own ketchup. I want to try that.

  2. My mouth is watering. The ketchup sounds amazing! Can’t wait to try!

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