Published May 1, 2011. From Cook's Illustrated.
Hand-ground beef gave us deep flavor, but getting a crusty exterior plus a juicy interior that was evenly rosy from center to edge required a couple more tricks.
It may be convenient, but supermarket preground meat is inconsistent and lacking in rich meaty flavor, and it cooks up dry and pebbly every time.
We set out to create a thick burger to rival those served in the best high-end pubs: one with deep flavor, a crusty exterior, and a juicy interior that was evenly rosy from center to edge.
We knew that grinding our own beef was the key to our ultimate pub-style burger, so our first order of business was choosing the cut of meat. We settled on sirloin steak tips, which offer supremely beefy flavor without gristly sinew.
Next, we considered our grinding process. Taking a cue from past burger recipes, we cut the meat into small chunks, froze them until just firm, and then pulsed them in a food processor in batches into rough, small bits. The combination of this technique, drizzling the meat mixture with melted butter, and the method that we used to form the meat into patties—essentially flattening loosely packed meatballs—gave the burgers enough structure and richness to please our tasters.
To avoid the thick band of gray meat between the crust and center of most stovetop hamburgers, we used a stovetop-to-oven cooking technique, in which the intense heat of the burner produced a great crust, and the gentler, more ambient heat of the oven prevented the gray band of meat from forming beneath it. We quickly seared the burgers in a skillet and then transferred them to a cool baking sheet (so that the top and bottom cooked evenly) before finishing in a moderate oven. After a few minutes, the burgers emerged with perfect interiors—juicy and rosy throughout.
This being a premium pub-style burger, it needed a few premium (yet simple) toppings. We threw together a quick, tangy-sweet burger sauce to smear on each bun and combined it with crispy shallots and blue cheese in one variation and aged cheddar and peppercorn-crusted bacon in another.list of recipes