A barbecued burger cooked to perfection is like music. Its composition requires patience, dedication and passion. And when these qualities come together, they inevitably give life to a dish that releases emotions. A hamburger made with a spinach bun and caramelized onion will generate unforgettable emotions with a little love and attention, ingredients cooked to perfection, and wonderful aromas. So how do you prepare the perfect barbequed hamburger?
- MEAT. This should be beef, finely chopped but not minced, with a balance of neck, sirloin and brisket. Ideally it should be knife-cut and not with a machine. In addition, to maintain the right consistency and succulence during cooking, it should contain a percentage of fat in the range of 20% to 40%. It’s the fat content and cooking procedure that actually helps you avoid producing a dry and shrivelled barbecued hamburger. It’s therefore a good idea to stick with your trusted butcher. But if you haven’t found one yet, the colour of the meat is a good indicator: the fatty white parts should be fewer than the red parts of the meat (although not absent altogether), and distributed evenly throughout.
- Although the secret to perfect cooking lies, without a doubt, in having some experience, the most important thing is to use of a good barbecue. Having said this, if you were to ask me to choose between cooking on a cast iron hotplate or a grill, I would answer grill. It gives the hamburger greater aroma and boldness, adding a smoky taste – thanks to the hot fat that drips onto the scorching embers during cooking, (or steel in the case of a gas barbecue), vaporizing to bring out the meat’s distinctive barbeque taste. I’d also suggest that you only turn the hamburger once, halfway through cooking, after about 3 minutes. Turn the hamburger as soon as the surface in contact with the grill has browned. This indicates that the Maillard reaction, during which sugars and proteins “caramelize”, has taken place and your meat is grilled to perfection. Having said that, be careful not to prolong the cooking time and above all never press the hamburger down on the grill as this will squeeze out all the juices. Ultimately, the more gradual and even the cooking, the better the result. The length of cooking then varies according to personal taste: you can opt for rare (my personal favorite), medium or well done. The choice is yours!
- THE BREAD. The burger bun is the precursor to the burger, contains the filling and plays a key role in that first bite. The ideal bread is round, has a soft compact texture and a slightly sweet taste. When bitten, it shouldn’t fall apart and should be able to soak up the garnishing well, thus allowing you to bite into it without anything “dripping” out. Before putting in the filling, it should be slightly toasted; I would recommend doing this at the last minute, when the meat is almost cooked.
- THE FILLING. The perfect hamburger, in addition to a top quality bun, also includes the presence of several co-stars which help define the character of your barbequed hamburger. A traditional one would normally include: crispy lettuce, tomato, melted cheese and bacon … but there is plenty of scope for variation and experimentation!
Home-made barbequed hamburger with a spinach bun and caramelized onion: the recipe
INGREDIENTS (for 10 buns)for home-made hamburgers:
- 700 gr of finely chopped beef
- salt and ground black pepper as desired
- extra virgin olive oil as desired
- 60 gr of fresh spinach
- 30 gr of butter
- 300 gr of type “0” flour
- 5 gr of dry yeast
- 10 gr of accacia honey
- 150 gr of full cream milk
- 7 gr of salt
- Extra virgin olive oil as desired
- two red onions
- three level tablespoons of sugar
- one level tablespoon of balsamic vinegar
- salt and extra virgin olive oil as desired
- fresh spinach leaves as desired
- 200 gr of blue cheese (I have opted for a spicy Gorgonzola)
- mayonnaise as desired.
HOW TO PREPARE THE PERFECT GOURMET HAMBURGER AT HOME
- Start with the spinach bun. Blend the spinach with the milk, add the dry yeast and stir until it dissolves.
- Pour the flour, honey, “green” milk and melted butter into a bowl. Mix with a spoon until it becomes a smooth even dough. At the very end, add the salt. Leave to rest under cling film (at 30°C in the oven if it’s winter or at room temperature if it’s summer) until it doubles in size (1 hour and a half to 2 hours).
- Work the dough into one long strand and divide it into 10 portions of about 50/60 g each. Shape them into balls and let them rise for 30 minutes under a clean cloth.
- Place the spinach buns on a baking tray lined with baking paper. Grease the surface of the green buns with a little oil and cook at 200°C for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and leave to cool.
- Prepare the burgers. Season the meat with salt and pepper, knead by hand, but not too much, to avoid dissolving the fat.
- Divide the meat into 10 balls, then shape into burgers by pressing them with your hands into round pastry moulds. Allow the meat to rest in the fridge for 30 minutes.
- Now for the caramelized onion. Cut the onions into slices a few millimetres thick, toss in a non-stick pan with a drizzle of oil. As soon as the onion starts to sizzle, lower the heat and add the sugar, salt and vinegar. Cook for 5 minutes or until the onion has softened and slightly caramelized.
- Cook the burgers. The best method of cooking is without a doubt on the barbecue, the embers giving that wonderful distinctive flavour to the meat. Grease the surface of the burgers with a little oil, and put them on the grill. I suggest cooking them at a temperature no higher than 200 ° C (the meat will be perfectly cooked on the outside and pink and succulent on the inside) for about 6 minutes, turning them halfway through cooking (if you want your burger well done simply lengthen the cooking time).
- When the burgers have nearly finished cooking on the barbeque, cut the buns in half and drizzle a little oil on the insides. Toast them lightly, with the inside in contact with the grill.
- Assemble your very own homemade gourmet hamburger. Place a little caramelized onion on the bottom half of the buns. Remove the burgers from the grill and – immediately – place on the bun with pieces of Gorgonzola on top of each one, allowing the cheese to melt thanks to the heat released by the meat. Finish off with a few fresh spinach leaves, a dribble of mayonnaise and close the bun. Your homemade gourmet burger is served. Bon appetit!