Burgers are BIG in the DMV (Dc, Md, Va). Our love affair with the lowly hamburger has been growing steadily over the last few years. Boutique burger joints have sprouted up around the region – some are ironically retro, others are unbearably chic… some are quirky hipster hangouts, and another has enchanted a President.
Burger fever reached epidemic levels in the DC area this week when Bobby’s Burger Palace opened its doors on K Street.
It’s OK. I get it! I’ll wait.
Stand in line all you like. Visit the newest, the hippest, the beloved, the import from another city – see what is out there… Do ALL this, and then make the best burger in town in the comfort of your own home.
There are several essential steps required to create the ultimate burger at home:
1) Use ground beef that has at least 10 % fat. (I know… but believe me, that’s probably less than you get from your favorite burger joint, and a lot of the fat drains out while cooking. Any less will result in a VERY dry burger!).
2) Season liberally! There is nothing worse than a bland burger – I have found that adding a few dashes of Worcestershire sauce and – most importantly – Fish Sauce (available in the Asian foods section of most grocery stores) adds a wonderful, meaty depth to any burger.
In addition to the Fish Sauce and Worcestershire – add garlic powder, salt** and pepper, then gently blend the mixture with your hands. Be gentle with this step – being too rough or over mixing the meat will result in a tough burger!
**NOTE I use substitute Shallot Salt from Penzy’s for salt and garlic powder – use sparingly as a little of this stuff goes a LONG way!
3) Marinate – let the seasoned ground beef sit for 10-15 minutes before forming patties.
4) Add another layer of flavor – Spread a thin layer of mustard on the top of each burger patty after you form it. (I like a sharp Dijon, but any mustard you have on hand will do the trick!)
(Note – This idea was stolen from a chef who claimed to have discovered the secret behind In-n-Out’s delicious hamburgers – I don’t know if it is true, but the trick makes for one heck of a good burger!!)
5) Surprisingly – keep your grill covered!!! The best burgers are cooked on the stove!!! (I prefer a cast-iron skillet, but any heavy-bottomed pan is better than the grill in this application.)
Heat your pan to medium high, and place the burgers in the pan (mustard side down). 1/3 lb. patties should only cook for 2-3 minutes per side at most…
The benefit to cooking burgers in a pan are numerous – The fat melts out if the meat, but is not lost into a fire, instead it helps create a nice crust on the patty. The crust adds a nice contrast in texture and flavor to every bite. Cooking quickly on a skillet will also yield a juicier burger.
6) Finally, assemble your burgers with your favorite accouterments and enjoy!