Since the rip roaring successful BEARDYQ where three like minded beardy folk took to destroying Mrs Shack's kitchen in a quest to peacock our culinary grilling prowess, there has been ample banter and machismo going on about BEARDYQ2; with a specific subject; Burgers.
It was Einstein who said;
"you have to learn the rules of the game and then you have to play them better than anyone else"
So I have been using my time wisely whilst in the States to "research" and get a leg up on the competition.
There are several claims to the origins of how the burger came about in the form which we know and love today. Most sources agree however on the origins of the important bit though, I am of course talking about THE MEAT.
Sources mainly agree that the patty style vehicles of the burger originates back to the days of Genghis Khan, (1167-1227) and his army of Mongol horsemen known as the "Golden Horde".
Riding for days at a time often without the opportunity to stop and eat the army needed food that could be carried on their mounts and eaten with one hand while they rode, they placed scraps of lamb or mutton under their horses which formed into flat patties. When it was time to eat, the meat would be eaten raw, having been tenderised by the saddle and the back of the horse.
This Steak Tartare as it became known made it's way over to Russia and was eventually bought back to Germany via the shipping trade. In the late eighteenth century, sailors who visited the ports of Hamburg brought this food and the term “Hamburg Steak” into popular usage. It's also how it made it's way over to the good ol' US of A and it is approximated that Americans now eat 50 BILLION burgers a year. We're not far behind here on our tiny little Island with Brits packing away over £3 Billion in burgers every year. That's a lot of burgers!
Ronald McDonald - childhood hero or the thing that nightmares are made of?
I bloody love a good burger. And I don't mean a trip to the 24 hour McDonalds after a heavy session of Guinness drinking, I mean a good hearty burger which will make the hairs on the back of your neck stand on end. Some of my regular haunts include Stokey Bears and Honest Burger when I'm out and about in London. And it's not secret of my love of In and Out whilst I'm in the States. Whilst researching I've found that MeatLiquor in N1 have a similar mustard glazed patty to the West Coast classic which I'm dying to try to see if it can, ahem... cut the mustard. I'll let you know.
But it's actually a bit unfair to single out just a few and when there are so many fabulous burger options out there up and down the country, I ask you, readers...
is it worth the effort of making your own?
Now I am not opposed to buying a good quality ready made burger to throw on the Q for a quick and tasty meal. Whilst I am yet to find anything remotely worth writing about available from the supermarket I can very much recommend Sherwood Food's Brisket Burger available from the Riverside Garden Centre, a snip at £2.60 for 2. But nothing screams manliness more than making a burger from scratch.
First of all you get to choose what goes in, on and around your burger. Here at the shack we also like to have a bit of a play around with the wow factor when we're entertaining from our BATMAN BURGERS with homemade black brioche Buns, the ULTIMATE SHARING BURGER, which literally gets delivered to the dining table in an entire cobb loaf, as well as our INCREDIBLE HULK BURGERS oozing with a combination of three cheeses as you bite in.
For all of these we made our own patties and the extra effort is well worth it. And here's my top tips for creating a killer creation:
For a juicy patty your choice of meat needs to be at least 20% fat none of this leaner choices nonsense, unless you want a burger that tastes of cardboard.
Using a burger press will ensure that all of your burgers come out the same shape and size and they are pretty cheap to purchase. This way you can make sure that Aunt Maude doesn't complain that your burger is bigger than hers.
When any muscle cooks, it contracts. So unless you want to be that person who is serving all bun and no meat make the burgers slightly larger than the bun to allow for shrinkage. Making an indent in the centre of the patty will also assist with this problem because it helps the burger to hold its shape as the meat contracts. After shaping, simply place your thumb in the centre and gently press to create an indent.
SEASON WITH REASON
When using a nice fatty cut of meat, the only seasoning you truly need is salt and pepper, but season you must. In saying this though we recently experimented with our COFFEE RUB BURGER which went down an absolute storm and is definitely going to be a keeper in the shack household from now on.
DON'T BE A FLIP DRIP
Make sure your grill is nice and clean before you start your cook. Leftover fat from previous cooking is sure to start an inferno and no one wants burnt burgers. I've started using Grill Grates especially for this purpose and they have made a massive difference to my grilling by preventing flare ups, distributing heat evenly and creating beautiful grill marks. The US manufacturers have indicated that they intend to market here in the UK so I will keep you posted.
PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE resist the urge to flatten your burgers with your spatula, this just releases all the juicy flavour and goodness. Be patient however hungry you are it will be worth the wait. Test when your burgers are ready to flip by gently nudging the burger with your spatula, if they pull away from the grill then they're ready to go, if they stick, leave them a little longer.
So call me biased, owning a Meat Shack and all but in my own opinion building your own burger is 100% worth the effort, plus as well I don't have to put up with Mrs Shack's insistence that it's not appropriate to wear shorts and flip flops in a restaurant - I don't even have to leave the house. But what say thee? I'm interested in the opinions of all you food lovers out there, to build or not to build, that is the question... Get involved and leave your thoughts, comments and recipes below or any of our Social Media Links be in with the chance to win a Jack's Meat Shack T Shirt.
And let's not forget the competition, I've been keeping an eye on BeardyQ contender @Eds_own_bbq IG page to see if I should be worried...