All right, in part 1 we covered the method I use at my restaurant in order to prepare ground beef for burgers. I neglected to mention that the reason that method is utilized is so the burgers can be served at whichever level of doneness the customer requests, while remaining foodsafe. In other words, I can serve you a medium-rare hamburger, and you don’t have to worry about food poisoning.
Ground beef alone does not a burger make, however. You’re going to need a bun and some fixin’s, because without a bun and fixin’s, all you’ve got is a lump of damned good ground beef. Now, you can use almost anything bread-related as a burger “bun”: a couple slices of WonderBread, a dinner roll, or some burger buns from the grocery store. I used to patronize a restaurant that served burgers on sourdough bread, before the bastards that owned it got arrested for dealing drugs or something. Hell, as I’m writing this essay, I’ve got some buttermilk biscuits in the oven (for our limey and Kiwi friends, on this side of the pond, what we call biscuits are similar to scones). A toasted buttermilk biscuit strikes me as being a wonderful vehicle for a burger.
Nine time out of ten, I myself will punk out and just buy buns if I’m making burgers at home. At the restaurant, though, I make the buns, because I’m charging motherfuckers $20 for a burger and fries (yes, I make the fries, too). So, let’s work those buns.
And yes – I did say that to the last girl I went out with.
Much like with the beef, I’m moving forward operating under the assumption that you have, or have access to, some specialized equipment. In this case, a stand mixer and a digital scale. You could absolutely knead the dough by hand, but my time is far too valuable for that shit. Oh, and you also should be familiar with the metric system.
You will need the following ingredients:
500 grams (g) flour
53 g sugar
13 g kosher salt
6 g instant yeast
200 g homogenized/whole/3.5 % milk
100 g water
48 g canola or vegetable oil
64 g softened butter
So….take the bowl of your stand mixer and put it right on the digital scale. This process will also go a lot smoother if you power on the scale at this point. Now add these ingredients into the bowl: sugar, salt, yeast, flour, milk, and water. Set up the mixer with the dough hook, and mix on low speed for 6 minutes. Once the time is up, add the egg and mix for another 2 or 3 minutes, until the egg is incorporated into the dough. Then add the oil and butter, and mix on low for 3 minutes, then turn the speed to medium and keep mixing until the dough is smooth and elastic.
When the dough has finished mixing, cut it up into 100 g chunks. You should get 10 pieces, plus a tiny little bit left over. Give your work surface a shot of cooking spray, then roll the chunks into balls and place them on two baking sheets that have been lined with parchment paper. Cover the dough balls with clean kitchen towels (I think these are also called tea towels in less civilized parts of the world) and place the trays in a warm spot for a couple of hours. Depending on your location, ambient temperature, barometric pressure, and a few other factors, this could take more time or less time than it does for me.
Once the dough balls have doubled in size, they’re ready for the oven. Give them a brush with an egg wash (an egg beaten with a splash of water), and if you like, sprinkle some toasted sesame seeds over them. In my oven, these bad boys will bake at 205 C (400 F) for about 12 minutes. Again, this may be different for you based on your location. Once the buns turn a beautiful brown color, then they be done.
At this point, the buns are good to go. Cut one in half, slap some fixin’s on it, then slide the burger patty on, and get yourself to chowing down.
Now, if you’ve been paying attention, you’ll notice a clear lack of anything resembling advice or instructions regarding the fixin’s. There is a reason for that, but you’ll have to wait for Part 3 to find out what it is.
Chef’s note: The dough described here also makes a very nice loaf of bread, just bake it as you would any other bread dough. You could also cut the dough into smaller chunks and make dinner rolls instead of burger buns. OR, if you have leftover burger buns, they work really well for French toast.