fork & dagger
the food blog by Cheryl Fenton
It’s National Burger Month, and I’ve never met a burger I didn’t like. Actually, I have, but its (medium) rare. (Get it?) When I was asked my dinner wish for Mother’s Day, I said, “Fire up the grill, Darling.” To get everyone into a burger mood, I tapped Chef Matt O’Neil at the Blue Ox in Lynn for a few tips on getting it right. He seemed the likely grill master, since his Sin Burger (applewood smoked bacon, Swiss cheese, and truffle aioli, above) has won burger awards. I love Sin. Wait that came out wrong.
Anyway, while you read over O’Neil’s burger wisdom, I’ll just sit back and wait by the grill with one of Blue Ox’s Hot N’ Dirty cocktails, my new favorite local libation of Knockabout gin, sriarcha, spicy pickle juice, and a Maitland Mountain Farm pickle. Happy grilling!
1. Meat type is very important. High-quality chuck meat is the base for a great burger, in my opinion. I’m all about blending meats to increase flavors and textures, but for me having a majority of the blend be chuck is important. (Eighty percent of my burger is ground prime chuck). It keeps to tradition, and also has the consistency to hold up to high heat on a grill, retaining its moisture and holding together well.
2. Choose a lean to fat ratio of 80 percent—no less than 75 percent and no more than 85 percent.
3. It’s very important that you buy the freshest ground meat possible direct from a butcher you trust. Ask your butcher to grind what you want for you. The fresher, the better.
4. Whether you’re buying the patties or making them yourselves, be sure to season as you go. When mixing the meat, add salt and pepper to the mixing bowl, and also to the finished patty before cooking. This makes a huge difference. When making the patty, try adding egg yolks and chopped shallots to enhance richness and flavor. Get creative if you like, but remember: Less is more. Don’t go overboard. Form patties to 3/4-inch thickness for eight-ounce burgers, slightly less for six-ounce.
5. Form tight, even patties. Use a mold if available. This will ensure even cooking. Chill and let meat and fats sit in the fridge for at least an hour after forming patties. Before cooking, let the burgers come up in temperature by removing them from the refrigerator 30 minutes before cooking. Season right before cooking with salt and pepper. I prefer grilling burgers over high heat to medium rare.
Now that you’ve got the skinny on making big fat burgers, happy grilling. As it turns out, we did everything wrong last Sunday. But that’s what the summer is for: practice.
As the Bruins take on the Canadiens in Game 7, Pauli’s Restaurant in the North End has created a sandwich in honor of the home team: the Killer B, a chicken cutlet topped with bacon, provolone cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, and honey mustard sauce.
MokSa in Central Square is offering all-you-can-eat sushi event Monday beginning at 5 p.m. for $29 per person.
Lucas Sousa, most recently executive sous chef of Vidalia restaurant in Washington, has begun as the new executive chef at Beacon Hill Hotel & Bistro.
The MET Back Bay and the Metropolitan Club in Chestnut Hill host their ninth annual soft-shell crab festival, though June 11, with the delicacy prepared a different way every night.
And Shanti in Roslindale is now offering a four-course vegan menu for $25 every Monday night.