How to Make a Perfect Burger Patty
The way your burger patty looks is just as important as what it’s made of. The ratio of lean meat to fat varies among different blends of ground beef, but 20% fat content is ideal for the juiciest burgers. Chef Tony prefers ground chuck because it always carries an 80/20 ratio from the same spot on the cow, giving a consistent flavor profile with every cook. Unspecified 80/20 blends, meanwhile, can contain any mixture of ground chuck, ground sirloin, and ground round. If you’d rather create your own blend of ground beef — which can make the burger-forming process more rewarding — aim for around 20 percent fat content so your burgers aren’t too dry.
Once you’ve selected your meat blend, it’s time to get your hands dirty. You can form the patties using either a mixing bowl or a sheet of parchment paper on top of foil. For the latter method, rub some water on your countertop, place foil on top of the water, spread more water on the foil, then lay the parchment paper on top of the foil. The water provides surface tension that’ll keep your parchment paper in place while you form the burger patties.
Break apart the meat over your parchment paper or mixing bowl until it’s loose and there are no large clumps left. Sprinkle some seasoning over the meat (Chef Tony uses a mix of coarse salt, black pepper, red pepper, and white pepper) then start lightly tossing the loose meat between your fingers like you would with pastry. The meat will become tougher the more it’s handled, so work it as little as possible and create like-sized balls as you go. There is no “best” size for burgers, but it’s a good idea to start with as much meat as you can fit between your hands when they’re cupped together.
Press each ball between your palms once, and don’t worry if isn’t formed in a perfect circle. Perhaps the most important part of this process comes right at the end — make an indentation with your thumb in the center of each patty. If you skip this step, the shrinkage that burgers naturally experience while being grilled will cause the middle to puff up and can turn them into sad little tennis balls much smaller than the bun. The indentation, however, allows the patty to rise in the center while still maintaining an even shape.
Burger Patty Life Hack
For those struggling with forming patties of a similar size, the lid of a mayonnaise jar or Tupperware container can help you make consistently round burgers. Simply spread a sheet of parchment paper on top of the overturned lid and smash the loosely formed balls into the lid as you would between your palms. If you’re not worried about having a few extra items to clean up, you can even smash the patties between two lids. The burger patties you remove from the lid will all be of identical size, but don’t forget to make that all-important thumb indentation in the middle of each one!How to Grill the Perfect Burger