If you wanna make the “best” burger ever, there are only 3 rules you must adhere to. Anything different and you’ll probably still end up with a something delicious, but it won’t be the best.
1. Grind Your Own Burger “Mix”
NOTHING beats a freshly ground burger. Don’t buy any frozen patties from Sam’s Club. Don’t buy any of the prepackaged stuff wrapped in plastic from your grocery store. If you want the most amazing burger experience, you need to grind your own burger blend.
It’s pretty easy to do. You don’t need to be a culinary expert to do this. You don’t have to be able to beat Bobby Flay at anything.
All you need is a meat grinder and some cuts of beef.
From there you can buy any assortment of meats you want and grind it up and call it a burger. They key is to make sure you don’t grind anything super lean. You want something with fat. Fat will keep your burger moist and juicy, and give you a ton of flavor (“fat is flavor.”)
And keep your meats cheap, don’t buy steak or anything ridiculous, as you’ll spend a lot of money for something that doesn’t give any more flavor.
For me, I keep it simple. I grind only two types of meat: chuck roast and boneless short-rib. It should be noted that not every grocery store carries boneless short-rib. If your grocery store has a butcher, most will trim the meat off the bone for you. I recommend this as doing it yourself can be a little tricky.
For every pound of chuck roast you buy, I recommend a quarter pound of short-rib. This will give you a burger mix of 75% chuck and 25% short-rib.
To make your burger mix, cut all your meat into small cubes. Chill it in your freezer for about 30 minutes (this keeps it from melting into a gummy texture when grinding.) Then simply grind your meat, season, and form your hamburger. Be careful not to over work the meat when forming it in your hands.
2. Generously Season Your Burger Mix… ALL Of It.
Salt and freshly ground black pepper is all you need.
BUT, if you wanna set your burger apart, I highly recommend a Chicago Steak Seasoning blend. When you season your meat be very generous. More is more when it comes burgers.
Now what I’m gonna say here is controversial. Many would say I am wrong. But that’s where I think they are wrong
You need to mix your seasoning into all of your burger mix, not just the surface!
Most folks making burgers say you should just season the outside of your burger patty. I find this to be lacking, especially if you make your burger patty a little on the thick side (like me).
If you only season the outside, then the inside of the burger will lack much in the way of flavor. And if only the surface is seasoned, then a lot of that seasoning will get cooked off when the burger crust forms.
If you season ALL of your burger mix, you will impart flavor throughout the entire burger.
However, after you season your burger mix and form the patty, I still recommend you hit the exterior with extra salt and pepper, as it will help form a better crust when you cook them.
I personally like to hit the outside with a lot of extra freshly ground black pepper. Season according to your liking.
3. ONLY Use A Cast Iron Skillet
Unless you are cooking for a large party…
Never. Never. NEVER cook your burgers on a grill.
You should only cook your burgers on a cast iron skillet.
The reasons are simple.
First, a grill will not really allow you to form a great crust on your burger. It’ll just leave grill marks. The crust on a burger forms when the entire surface is exposed directly to intense heat. The heat causes the crust with all its’ seasoning to caramelize, creating not only amazing flavor, but a great texture.
Secondly, if you cook a burger on your grill, all that amazing flavor from the fat (fat is flavor!) and all the juices from the burger will fall between the grates into the flames below. When cooking on the cast iron, all that juicy fat will be saved, and your burger will be so juicy it’ll run down your fingers as you eat it. Just as God intended.
BONUS TIP: Use 2 Slices of Cheese
I’ve noticed over the years, one slice of cheese just isn’t enough.
The cheese has a tendency to thin out and melt away a bit. But TWO slices of cheese, that’s where it’s at. Your cheese will be more creamy and full of flavor. And to better melt your cheese, I recommend putting a pan lid on top of your cast iron skillet as you cook it, as the heat from the pan will get trapped under the lid.
And I recommend a sharp cheddar cheese to top your burger! It has more contrasting flavor than boring old American or Colby cheeses.