The secret to a really tender burger is all in the way the meat is ground or, more specifically, how it is treated after grinding. By ensuring the individual strands of meat face in the same direction as outlined below, you will guarantee succulent burgers every time. How you garnish your burger is up to you but for me, it has to be with melted cheese, mustard and dill pickles. If you cannot get brioche buns, go for really soft rolls, otherwise the filling will squish out.
- 1.8 kg sirloin, cut into 3 x 3 cm cubes
- 13 g salt
- olive oil
- 90 g tomato ketchup
- 145 g mayonnaise
- 15 g mustard
- 10 slices gruyère cheese
- 10 sliced burger buns, toasted
- 2 vine-ripened tomatoes, sliced
- ½ sweet onion, peeled and finely sliced (see Note)
- 2 baby gem lettuces, broken into leaves
- 2 dill pickles, sliced lengthways
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Chilling time 6 hours
Place 600 g of the cubed sirloin in a bowl and sprinkle with the salt. Mix together, cover with plastic wrap then place in the fridge for 4 hours. The salt will penetrate the meat during this time and begin to draw out some of the moisture.
Using a meat grinder fitted with a 3 mm plate, grind the unsalted sirloin then refrigerate this meat until very cold. Combine the cold ground meat with the cold, salted sirloin cubes and mix well.
Before you begin the final grinding, place two layers of plastic wrap across a chopping board or baking tray and position it under the mouth of the grinder. Using a coarser, 8 mm grinding plate, pass the meat mixture through the grinder. This will retain some larger pieces of the sirloin.
As the meat comes out of the grinder, have a second person use their hands to lay out the strands of meat on the plastic wrap. Try to keep the grain of the individual strands running lengthwise in the same direction without getting tangled together. To do this, start laying the meat down at the edge of the sheet furthest from the grinder and work towards the closest edge.
Wrap the meat up tightly in the plastic wrap, twisting the ends tightly to form a log. Prick a few holes in the plastic wrap with a pin to release any air pockets trapped inside, then continue to twist the ends to tighten until the log is about 12 cm in diameter.
Wrap the log in another layer of plastic wrap to keep it from coming apart, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or until needed.
When ready to cook, place the still-wrapped log on a cutting board and use a very sharp knife to cut slices that are approximately 2 cm in thickness. (The plastic wrap helps to keep the meat from falling apart.) Place the finished burgers on a baking tray and refrigerate until needed. If you have more burgers than you need, they can be individually wrapped in plastic wrapped at this point and frozen until needed.
To cook the burgers, rub each one with a little oil and place them on the barbecue or a really hot frying pan, and flip them every 15–20 seconds. Cook to your liking or for medium-rare, take the burger to 45ºC in the centre. Immediately after the last flip, place a slice of cheese on top of each burger and allow to melt for the final 15 seconds.
To make the sauce, combine the ketchup, mayonnaise and mustard in a bowl and mix thoroughly.
To serve, place the base half of a bun on a plate and put a burger with melted cheese on top. Place a couple of slices of tomato and onion followed by a couple of leaves of lettuce and a couple of slices of pickle. Finish with a spoonful of sauce. Place the top half of the bun on top and serve.
• If you can’t get sweet onions, soak onion in water for 10 minutes or quickly blanch in boiling water for 30 seconds.