Saturday, May 3, 2008

Burgers for a crowd

Madame and I will be having the annual "Thank you for all your hard work" picnic for the producers and staff at the TV station. This is the 5th. annual and is our way of saying thank you to all who worked so hard.

This year promises to be the biggest yet, with many burgers to be made. I don't know if Greg's record of 4 burgers (tied with Chad) will be broken this year, but we are determined to make sure there are plenty of burgers and brats.

So I was faced with the rather daunting challenge of making 64 burgers. Those who know me will recognize some obsessive behaviors (roasting coffee, baking bread, everything from scratch where possible), and burgers are no exception. Well, even though we live in TX we don't actually raise our own cattle! I like my patties to be around 5 oz in weight. That way they are thick enough to have something to bite into, and they perfectly fit a standard bun. Also, I like to use 75% chuck and 25% sirloin. I want the fat of the chuck, together with sirloin's beefiness. No off the wall seasonings...Obviously I am not about to trust my "friendly neighborhood grocery store". The local Tom Thumb doesn't grind meat to order and pushed me towards packages of mystery meat. The Albertsons at Lemmon/McKinney wouldn't either. I did however find a butcher on Lemmon who would grind meat to order. He didn't have enough chuck, but suggested that if I brought some chuck in, he would trim and grind it for me. He would also grind some sirloin and then regrind both meats together. Deal! Off to the nearest grocery store for 15lbs of chuck.

Who was this person who understands customer service? His name is Greg Geerts, and his store VG's Butcher Shoppe at 3527 Oak Lawn, Dallas.

So now I had the meat, how to shape the 64 patties? I don't like those hamburger presses that you can buy at high end stores - they produce excellent looking burgers, but I find the burgers tend to be dry. I hit upon what might be the perfect technique - learned from baking. If I were to roll out the meat to the right thickness, then I could use a cutter of some kind to cut out the patties. The challenge was, how thick to make the meat. Answer, weigh 5 oz meat and pack lightly into the ring that you are going to use to cut the patties out.

See how thick that is, and pat the rest of the meat to that thickness. Then simply stamp out the patties. Voila! 64 patties in 30 minutes without breaking a sweat!

Of course, don't forget to make an indentation in the top of the patty, so that when the burger is cooked, it doesn't create a little dome. The indentation before ensures a flat patty afterwards.

Look for the cooking results in the posting from the party tomorrow!

1 comment:

Jim said...

Wow, Chris, I had no idea you put that much prep went into making those burgers. I may have mentioned before, but your burgers are epic! I could maybe eat 2, but Greg is a machine.