There’s always someone claiming to be able to make the perfect burger patty. This is a problematic claim, of course, because it’s subjective. People who like thick burgers think only a thick patty will do, while others think thin and only thin can ever be considered the perfect burger patty. And then there are people who like their patties round like a hand ball, or smashed flat, or square and served as sliders, or even stuffed.
We polled our staff to find out what they think is the perfect burger patty. As anticipated, opinions varied. Some of us even like one kind of patty for cooking indoors and another for grilling. Makes sense. While most of us use our hands to shape our diverse patties, it turns out a few of us use tools.
“For my partner’s birthday this year, I got him one of those terrible, flimsy aluminum quarter pound patty presses — mostly for kicks because it was shiny and silver and like, six bucks,” said our creative director. “Also because he loves a burger and has been working to perfect the thin, crispy patty. It doesn’t prevent you from having to get down and dirty with the meat, but it does dictate thickness and provide that nice, even circle shape, which can be very satisfying if you’re into that sort of thing.”
Our retail manager hacks her patty press, using two tops of round plastic, like from take-out soup containers. “Invert them, take a handful of ground, and mush it between the tops,” she said. “It makes perfectly shaped and sized patties for grilling, every time. My kids prefer round, ‘It’s not really a burger if it’s not roouunnnddd, Mom!'”
The kids have a point. Whatever you think of as the perfect burger patty, you’re going to want to wash your hands, roll up your sleeves, and get in there — even if you’re using a tool, you’re going to wind up with your fingers in the meat at some point.
For more inspiration on shaping the perfect burger patty, check out this Food Network article. Or here’s an excerpt from our book, The Butcher’s Guide to Well-Raised Meat, on how to make a perfect patty into a perfect burger:
If you like a flat top on your burger, use your thumb to make a divot in the middle of your patty. It will puff up as it cooks, giving you a nice surface on which to rest your (pastured) bacon, your heirloom tomato, and your local cheddar. Pressing the burger flat while cooking makes the juices run out — don’t do it.
Kosher (or sea) salt liberally, then sear in a steel pan for 2 minutes per side, then transfer to a 325 degree F. oven until it reaches your preferred doneness; check with a thermometer after 3 minutes in the oven. The USDA suggests that you cook your burger until the internal temperature reads 160 degrees F. In case you were wondering, Josh Applestone likes them bloody — he wants them to look just spray-painted brown on the outside while still raw on the inside.