Family Meal: The Perfect Burger

We take eating pretty seriously over here at CuliNex. We are continually doing internal sensory evaluations during product development, to make sure the foods we’ve been tasked with developing are hitting the senses in all the right places, from aroma to mouthfeel to flavor intensity and even the after taste. We are constantly snacking, nibbling and chewing, as seasoning blends get tweaked, baking times are tested, and new product specs put through the rigmarole of benchtop testing.

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That’s not to say every test is a success or tastes great, by any stretch of the imagination. We go through countless iterations of formulas that don’t make the cut, because they fail to meet our impeccably high standards for quality. Just because a product has a lot of parameters, such as non-GMO, organic, low sugar, or high in protein, doesn’t mean that taste can suffer.

While we work hard on the bench and around the sensory panel table, we also carve out space and time for family meal. No, not a company family picnic, but a restaurant-style “family meal” as it’s called in the foodservice industry, where everyone gathers together, from dishwashers to line cooks to sit down to grub on some home cooked food.

Why is it important for CuliNex to have family meals?

  • So we can critique each other’s table manners.
  • So we can make sure we all get enough protein.
  • So we can remember why CuliNex is such a great place to come to work every day.

-Mark Crowell, Chief Mischief Maker

At CuliNex, family meal is practically a sporting event, usually with a hands-on component to get everyone involved and much storytelling and laughter.

For our most recent meal, Webb orchestrated an end-of-summer, in-door burger barbecue of freshly ground, perfectly juicy and pink, medium rare cooked sous vide burgers, hand-torched to order by each diner and topped with crispy bacon and fire-roasted hatch chiles.

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Why is grinding your own meat important?

  • Because home ground meat tastes better and is safer than the stuff you buy in stores.
  • Sticking it to "the man" by making your own food from scratch makes you a kitchen warrior and totally awesome.
  • One word – control (think fat content, grind size, seasoning throughout your burger, cost).

-Anne-marie Ramo, Senior CBS (Certified Bacon Scientist), Meat Butchery Master

Why should you cook burgers sous vide?

  • A very simple method to evenly cook and very difficult to over cook
  • How would you like it cooked? Med rare? Medium? Medium well? Set and forget!
  • Using a torch to sear is fun!

-Webb Girard, Minister of Enablement & Master Home Brewer

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Lesley also offered up some spicy Kalamata olive-seasoned kettle chips, blended in our benchtop tumbler, as well as a hand-picked salad from her garden. Webb paired the meal with homemade beer (yes, we’re very spoiled), both a sunny yellow Kolsch-style lager, and a delightfully roasty, dark Schwarzbier (black beer).

Is the juice that comes out of a medium rare burger (or steak) blood?

  • Nope, it is not blood.
  • Animals are drained of their blood during the slaughtering process and then it is sold to vampires.
  • The red liquid is a mixture of water and the protein, myoglobin.

-Katherine Langel, Bovine Burger Aficionado & Blue Bunny Ice Cream Addict (she hails from Iowa, afterall)

What are the best burger condiments?

The choices for toppings and condiments are endless… but mayonnaise, crisp Boston/Bibb lettuce, and a fat slice of a ripe tomato are key. And of course you can never go wrong with BACON!

-Lesley WerblinHappy Hour "Hostess with the Mostest" & avid fan of the new Sizzl app

The Perfect Burger

Below is our method for perfect burgers, any time of year. They make a great family meal (at work, home or a restaurant!) because no one is stuck tending to the grill, making sure the burgers are perfectly cooked. They are practically impossible to overcook and everyone gets to partake in the fun part, wielding a torch to broil their burgers to crispy perfection.

Look for a piece of chuck with good marbling and little connective tissue. If you get a large piece and grind it yourself, you can form and package any extra patties and freeze them for cooking another time.

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Ingredients

  • Beef chuck
  • Black Pepper
  • Garlic Powder
  • Kosher salt
  • Buns, cheese, lettuce, tomato, bacon, condiments, etc.

Equipment

Method

  1. Grind the meat on a coarse plate, or alternatively, chop coarsely by hand and pulse in a food processor until it’s in small bits (you don’t want to make a paste).
  2. Divide the meat into 200g (7 ounces) portions and lightly shape into ½” thick patties. Do not compact or press the meat too hard.
  3. Season the outside generously with kosher salt, black pepper, and garlic powder.
  4. Place in vacuum bags and seal with a very slight vacuum—enough to remove air but not compress the patties.
  5. Place in a water bath (a large metal pot or cambro works great) with an immersion circulator set to 58°-60°C (136-140°F) for a minimum 45minutes (but you can cook them for up to a couple hours and they won’t overcook); the burgers will be cooked to medium.
  6. Remove the burgers from the bath, remove from bag, and pat dry with a paper towel
  7. Sear the burgers with the method of your choosing; a ripping hot grill, a hot cast iron skillet, or broiler are all great—but a torch is the most fun

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