The country seems to be in the middle of a giant burger boom. Everywhere you turn, there is a new chef-owned burger joint promising the best beefy bite you’ve ever tasted.
Are those $20 burgers really worth it? Once you try this Beef and Bacon Burger Blend, you may not think so.
I love a good burger as much as the rest of the meat-eating population, maybe even more. From high-end restaurants serving a “house mix” to In-N-Out and Five Guys, I’ll take them all. That being said, I’ve eaten some pretty bad ones too. The worst in memory were probably served at any number of backyard cookouts and ranged from homemade hockey pucks to thawed-out mystery meat.
So my question is this: Why is burger-eating a national pastime, yet home cooks continue to get them oh-so-wrong? You would think we might have it figured out by now.
I decided once and for all to get my burger-cooking facts straight and share a recipe. The result is one of the juiciest, most flavorful burgers I could have ever thought possible. And it is so foolproof that even my father – the king of prodding, mashing, turning and burning – could not mess it up.
What’s the big secret? Well, kids, what makes everything in this world better? Bacon! Not on top of the burger, as you would expect, but ground up in it, so every bite is infused with rich, smoky flavor. And since any burger lover knows fat equals flavor, bacon fat means loads and loads of flavor.
I use the grinder attachment for my KitchenAid to make my own meat blends — and I highly recommend it if you are in the market. But you don’t have to have your own equipment to make these burgers. If you don’t have a grinder, you can use your food processor or ask the people at the meat counter to grind it for you.
There’s not much else to write about these burgers. Per my friend Maggie (tester No. 5), “It’s brisket. It’s bacon. It’s brilliant.”
TOSS the cubes of beef and bacon together with a generous amount of cracked black pepper on a large rimmed baking sheet. Spread into a single layer and freeze until very cold but not frozen solid, at least 1 hour. Place the grinder attachments in the freezer to chill.
ASSEMBLE the grinder attachment fitted with the coarse disc and attach to the stand mixer. Nestle a mixing bowl inside a larger bowl filled with ice (to help keep the ingredients chilled) and place under the grinder. On medium-high speed, slowly feed the chilled meat through the grinder. Continue until all the meat is ground.
TURN meat out onto the same rimmed baking sheet and divide into 6-8 even portions. Take 1 portion of meat and firmly roll into a ball the size of a softball. Place on the pan and press firmly to form a disc. Continue with remaining meat. Cook immediately, or cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate up to 24 hours.
PREHEAT the grill on high heat until the temperature reaches 375-400 degrees, about 10-15 minutes depending on the grill. If desired, place a large cast iron griddle or skillet on the grill grates and preheat with the grill until smoking. (If the grill is large, keep one or two burners on low heat for finishing the burgers.)
SPRINKLE a very generous amount of salt (and more pepper if desired) over the top of the patties. Place the burgers, seasoned side down, on the grill grates/griddle. Cover and cook until the burgers have developed a nice charred crust, 3-4 minutes. Sprinkle the tops with additional salt and flip. Top with a slice of cheese if desired. Cover and allow the other side to develop a good crust, about 3-4 minutes longer.
CHECK the center of the patties with an instant-read thermometer and remove the burgers when they are 5 degrees below the desired temperature. Transfer to the cooler side of the grill to finish, if necessary.
REMOVE the burgers from the grill to rest for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, place the buns on the grill grates/griddle, cover, and cook until light golden and just toasted, about 1-2 minutes. Assemble burgers with toppings and serve immediately. YIELD: 6 to 8 burgers.
Nealey Dozier is a writer for TheKitchn.com, a website for food and home cooking.