Sunday, 8 January 2012

Great Buns

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.


Simon B said...

I have to admit that, after having a McDonalds in Madrid about as often as you do, Keefie, I now go up to twice a month in Hong Kong. Chinese food is good, but you need a cheap break from it sometimes, and a Hong Kong Big Mac is apparently the cheapest in the world!

David said...

Very difficult to find good burgers in Madrid. I make my own too, but haven't tried making the buns yet. Now that I have your link to the recipe I will. Thanks, David

leftbanker said...

I have my butcher make my hamburger according to my instructions. A good hamburger should be about 25% fat which means I need to mix the very lean beef here with some pork. I just point to cuts of meat and have him throw it in the grinder.

I've never made buns before as I've have little luck in the baking department here in Spain. I buy hamburger buns from Mercadona that aren't bad at all.

P.S. I turned off the comment verification pain-in-the-ass thing on my blog and I have had zero in the way of problems. It automatically filters for most spam and I only ask for verification on older entries. Just a thought to make commenting easier.

Keefieboy said...

Simon - surprised to hear HK Big Macs are so cheap - apparently the price of a Big Mac in various places is a very reliable indicator of exchange rates or some other economic thang.

Leftbanker - yeah, you're right about the fat - I forgot to mention it 'cos my butcher knows I don't usually want the ultra-lean stuff. said...

... what I wouldn´t give for a proper cheeseburger. But alas, here in rural Palencia, sanity and "proper ternera" will not tolerate such insanity.
It´s ultra-lean, organic calf-meat, or a ticket to the nearest city with a McDonald´s... and one wonders if that is Meat anyway.

It´s hell being a Yank out on the perimeter. Even after all these years.