• Sandwich series part 2:

    Great Hamburgers

    Oh yes, the Epicurean eats hamburgers too. But he strives for the best burgers he can.

    I know what you’re thinking, who needs a recipe to make a hamburger?! You buy a few burger patties from AH, you fry them until you can’t wait any longer and then you throw them between two halves of a soft burger bun, right? Well, this wouldn’t be the Epicurean if we didn’t strive for the best burgers we can, so a different approach is needed.

    Finding a decent burger in Groningen is difficult, though not impossible. There are a few places that do great burgers, with a new addition to the mix called Wereldburgers (who can resist food puns?) that is worth checking out and supporting (especially with these coupons). Without a doubt, though, the absolute best burgers you can have are those you make at home, as they are made with a little care and for less money than anything else you can find. Let’s see what makes a great burger then.

    Main priority

    The meat should be your main priority of course. Forget premade burger patties, even from good butchers. There are two big problems with those: their content could be better and their structure can be improved as well. Starting with the content, a good burger should have about 20-25% fat so that it remains juicy and full of flavour after it is cooked. Besides fat content, different cuts of beef have different flavours, so it helps if you ask your butcher to grind you exactly the pieces you want. I usually go for 30% flank steak (which has a very intense flavour, but not much fat) and 70% chuck (borstlappen), or a similarly fatty piece, and ask the butcher to grind it on medium (or I do it at home in a food processor).

    Common mistake

    When you take the meat home, mix it so the two types are distributed evenly and let it sit covered at room temperature for 30 minutes (cold meat will cook more slowly and less evenly). To make the patties, divide the mix into four and shape each one as loosely as you can into a patty about 2.5cm thick.

    It’s a common mistake to press the meat together, which makes the burgers slow to cook and tough. A loose patty that holds its shape is what you’re after. Gently press a dimple in the middle of the patty. Meat tends to swell as it cooks and if you don’t create this dimple, you will end up with fat meatballs rather than flat burgers. The final trick is to salt the exterior liberally (I am very heavy-handed with salt when it comes to burgers, so use your own judgment. Just don’t skimp on the salt) and put the burgers to one side while you heat your pan. A griddle pan is perfect for burgers, but I always just use a non-stick frying pan and heat it over medium-high heat for a few minutes until I am ready to cook.


    Put the burgers in the pan (but do not crowd them, they should not be touching) and hear them sizzle (if they don’t, the heat is too low). Depending on how well you want your burgers cooked (I usually have mine medium-rare), you will need to flip them after about three (for medium-rare) to four minutes (for medium), at which point a lovely crust should have formed on the first side. Cook them on the second side for another four to five minutes and place them on a platter to rest for a minute (this keeps them juicier than if you were to bite into them immediately).

    I usually serve my burgers in crusty buns buns from the local bakery (lightly toasted) with sliced onions , tomatoes , pickled cucumberslettuce leaves and the usual condiments, but everyone can build their own burger as they like. Try them out and you will never want to go back to the prepackaged version.


    Interested? Then print the text version of this recipe!


    • Great Hamburgers

      Ingredients (for 4 people)

      4 hamburger buns
      700g freshly ground beef
      1 large ripe tomato
      Cucumber pickles
      1 small onion
      A few lettuce leaves