Basics of Burgers

The Basics of Burgers

Simplicity, Quality Ingredients and Creativity is All you Need to Make a Memorable Burger.

As reported across America’s food publications, foodie websites and insider blogs, the industry trends of 2011-12 have centered on chefs infusing new flavors and excitement into routine and common cuisine; now that spotlight has turned it’s creative juices and focus on the hamburger: edible, flexible and found on just about every menu.

Putting together a great burger consists of four major considerations for success: great patty, bun selection, seasoning, and cheese along with other add-ons. Simplicity reigns in creating memorable artisan burgers.

Start with a patty that has a lot of flavor, which means 20-25 percent fat content is important. Fresh patties are preferred, but not necessary, just as long as your chuck has plenty of rich, beefy flavor.

One of the most important factors is whether or not your bun can stand up to the natural burger juices. Toasted brioche buns are becoming more and more popular, with some of the best coming from Oregon bakeries. Other options for wrapping your patty include bagels, rye bread, ciabatta roll or thick cut Texas toast.

It’s your menu and your choice, which is one of the great things about burgers. You can upscale the flavor profile, add different sides and find ways to match your customer’s expectations, and even special needs (gluten-free, meatless, hold the cheese, etc.). A few seasoning suggestions are kosher salt and black pepper (basic), Pepper Supreme or Montreal, Creole seasoning for heat, Chipotle for trend and Cayenne for more intense heat.

Local chefs are rediscovering Oregon cheeses. It follows that Northwest beef goes very well with Northwest cheese; look to local producers to help you develop a signature bistro burger flavor for your establishment. Other options include smoky bacon, ham, eggs, spam, onions, cream cheese, avocado or mushrooms.

For the best juicy burgers, cook patties starting from either thawed or raw. Use the rule of “turn once, flip once”. Wait for the juices to surface, then flip to finish and cook to customers’ preferred doneness. And whatever you do, never press a patty to help it cook faster, it will finish dry and disappoint your customer.

Create your own signature “slider plate” that features two or three different versions of your entrée burgers. This will allow you to add a solid appetizer to your menu and generate customer excitement for your burger creations. Plus, you are essentially working with the same ingredients, so you are neither adding line items on your order nor needing to find more storage space.

The Locals Only – Select a local source for your patty and pepper jack cheese along with mushrooms with amber ale BBQ sauce on a brioche bun from your favorite bakery around the corner.

The Storm Watcher – A masterpiece for the beach: Two grilled patties with fried eggs and pecan wood-smoked bacon on a fresh ciabatta roll.

Rowdy Reuben Burger (great for when the Timber’s Army stops by) – Grilled beef patty smothered with melted Swiss cheese, thousand island dressing and zesty coleslaw, served on a marbled rye.

A Beam of Light! (in case some hopefuls and dreamers stop in during the rainy months) – This burger is made with a choice of either an extra lean beef patty or veggie patty, aged cheddar cheese, sprouts, scallions and avocado, served on a whole wheat bun with a dab of cottage cheese.

If you are planning a burger makeover, you can rely on your business partnership with Sysco, your Marketing Associate, and their expert team of culinary and operational professionals to help; they will match your operation to the trends that will work best for you and your customers. | GARETT SMITH, MARKETING MANAGER AT SYSCO PORTLAND AND EXECUTIVE CHEF MARK BERNETICH

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