Last week both the Globe & Mail and the Ottawa Citizen had food sections devoted to everything burger. The G&M published three articles, The secret to the beefiest, juiciest burger ever, Would you try one of these outrageous burgers? and Meat, veggie and fish: 12 awesome burger recipes for every taste. While the Citizen published four articles, Keep the sizzle simple, Your choice: Ottawa’s best burger, Chic condiments and Where’s the beef?
While both newspapers are well meaning they don’t quite get everything perfect. In the Globe they imply that adding salt while you’re making the patty is alright (it isn’t). When you salt before the patty is made your burgers end up looking and tasting like a “solid, rubbery object that would look more at home on an alien autopsy table.” They also think that pan frying on a hot grill is better than a straight grill, and that there is no difference between gas and charcoal (again they’re wrong on both counts). With regards to grill versus pan,
The real secret to the flavor of grilled food… is the drippings. Dribbles of juice laden with natural sugars, proteins and oils fall onto the hot coals and burst into smoke and flame. By catalyzing the myriad chemical reactions, the intense heat forges these charred juices into molecules that convey the aromas of grilling food. These new molecules literally go up in smoke, coating the food with the unmistakable flavor of grilled food. – (Vol2, pg 12 Modernist Cuisine)
Then with regards to gas versus charcoal, a gas grill is never going to give radiant heat as good or effectively as charcoal, and radiant heat is the way to go when grilling.
The Citizen contradicts the Globe by suggesting that you minimize the seasoning. Liberal use of salt on the exterior of a patty after being formed but prior to cooking is good. In Ottawa they also think that flipping a burger once “keep[s] those wonderful juices where they belong — in the burger.” Nothing could be further from the truth, and flipping a burger many times while it is cooking will reduce the cooking time and result in burger that is more evenly cooked. Then the Citizen makes the egregious mistake of suggesting that you cook a burger until it is 160 degrees. When you cook a burger to 160 degrees it becomes a dry, gray piece of hot meat without much flavor.
It’s nice to see that they are trying, but if you really want tips on how to make a better burger I’d highly recommend these.