There are few things on this earth that can beat a really good beefburger. Sadly, like pies, some of the things that get passed off as 'good' burgers are anything but. I remember to this day the very first 'hamburger' I ever had. It was at a Wimpy in Doncaster (MacDonald's and their ilk were still a few years away from hitting UK shores, and burgers did not exist in Brit 'cuisine'), and it was very nearly enough to put me off the damn things for life. Obviously, I didn't know what it was supposed to be like, and so I was disconcerted by the total lack of ham in it. I also suspected that the disc of dense brown meatlike stuff in the middle could have been a lot juicier, the inner faces of the bread should not have been dark brown, crispy and carbon-flavoured, and that maybe the addition of some lettuce, tomato and ketchup might have improved things.
I did get over it, and about once a year I'll have a Big Mac or whatever the Burger King equivalent is, just to remind myself of what they're like. They're not like really good burgers, that's for sure.
These days, when I want a burger, I make it myself. The patty element of burgers is actually pretty easy. It's just beef that has been popped through a mincer. There could be a bit of salt. But nothing else; no onion, no filler, nothing to make it hold together (pure meat really doesn't need it). How you cook the patty is up to you, although there's a ton of advice about it on the interwebz. And the crunchy things and sauces that you put into the burger are also a matter of taste.
But the one thing that is critically important to a decent burger is the bread you put it in. Sadly, in Spain at least, the folks who make 'burger buns' think that sweet soft fluff does the trick. They are utterly wrong. A good burger bun needs to be strong enough to hold the contents together. A little bit of crunch on the toasted edges doesn't go amiss. Taste and texture are useful to have. I make my own buns these days.
When I was researching burger bun recipes, I came across this article, and the recipe seems pretty good. I've made it a few times, and I made it again today. But I tried a variation. You see, I wanted the buns to be the same diameter as the burgers, and to achieve this I was going to place the dough for each burger inside a steel ring. It turned out I had a bit more dough than I needed, but I used it anyway, with the result that the buns looked more like loaves. Next time I'll try to take some photos before we consume the finished burgers.
A Genuine Afghan Dinner, Kandahar 1871.
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