The Bistro Burger Recipe

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Remember the days when a hamburger was simply ground beef flattened to about the depth of a pancake, a slice of processed cheese, and condiments were simply store-bought ketchup, mustard, and sweet pickle relish all sandwiched between a soggy bakery bun?

Today, burgers are becoming more gourmet and creative. Indeed, some border on works of art and can be towering structures!  Specially created burger sauces, unique relishes, specialty meats, and gourmet cheeses are now common ingredients on burgers.  And, of course, there are several different ways a burger can be cooked. Sometimes, as in the case of my recipe, more than one cooking method is used to cook the burgers.  All this to say that the benchmark on burger creativity has now been raised to a new level.

Hamburger
“The Bistro Burger” on a Gluten-Free (GF) Hamburger Roll

When I am developing any recipe, the first thing I think about is what flavors will play well together and be pleasing to the palate.  As far as I’m concerned, it’s not about how many ingredients are included in the burger or how big or tall the burger is but rather it’s about the quality of ingredients and their ability to blend well and compliment each other.

I don’t personally like a whole lot of ingredients on my burger or ones that are, well, just plain wonky and don’t blend well with the beef.  If there are too many ingredients, I find it hard to detect any discernible flavour and, for my taste, they detract from the burger experience.  I still need to taste the beef! Any additions should only enhance, not smother or mask, the beefy flavor.

"The Bistro Burger"
“The Bistro Burger”

My burger creation aims to strike the middle ground through the chosen selection of ingredients and a carefully-tested cooking method. In my view, there are two challenges with burger creation. The first challenge is to cook the burger perfectly so it is moist and juicy. The second challenge is to maintain, not mask, the flavor of the meat itself and to choose toppings with flavors that play well with, and bring out the savoriness of, good quality beef.

Now, that is not to say that new flavours cannot be introduced into burgers or that the types of ingredients typically associated with burgers cannot be prepared in different ways to “up” the calibre of the burger – onions can be carmelized or be in the form of jam, sauces can blend complimentary flavors, and veggies can be marinated. Other ingredients, such as the traditional bacon, can be replaced with alternatives such as prosciutto which can be eaten raw or candied. Fresh fruit can be added to infuse some sweetness to the burger and counter the savory flavour of the meat.

When I was creating this burger recipe, I had five (5) objectives in mind:

  • Recipe would be adaptable for those with a gluten intolerance/sensitivity;
  • Hamburger would include sauces and the relish made from my own recipes;
  • To the extent possible, locally-produced products, including the beef, would be used; (ingredient sources listed at end of posting)
  • Ingredients would be chosen for their ability to play well together and be pleasing to the palate; and
  • The resulting hamburger would be both eye appealing and appetizing.

The following is my recipe for a tasty beef burger that uses my own recipe creations for sauces and relish most of which were previously posted on this food blog.  Also, to the extent possible, I have used locally-produced products. Following the recipe below, you will find some of my hints for burger making along with some explanations of my choices of ingredients in this burger.  At the bottom of this posting, you will also find a printable version of the recipe.

The Bistro Burger

The Bistro’s Burger Sauce

Ingredients:
1/3 cup mayonnaise
2½ tbsp pure maple syrup
2 tbsp ketchup
2 tbsp rhubarb relish
1½ tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp garlic powder
1½ tbsp. sour cream
½ tsp onion salt
Salt and pepper, to taste

Yield: Apx. 1 cup

Frozen Flavor Burst Logs

Ingredients:
2 tbsp butter, softened at room temperature
2½ tsp mustard (Dijon or sweet)
2 tbsp finely grated Parmesan Cheese
1½ tsp dried parsley
Yield: Apx. 6 Logs

 Burger Patties:

Ingredients:
1 lb ground chuck (apx 80:20 ratio meat-to-fat content)
¼ cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
2 tbsp Blueberry Barbeque Sauce
1½ tbsp maple syrup
½ tsp onion salt
¼ tsp garlic salt
2 tsp dry onion soup mix
Pinch cayenne pepper
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 egg, lightly beaten
¼ cup+ medium-ground bread crumbs

Yield:  Apx. 6 patties

Cooking oil
Blueberry Barbeque Sauce
6 hamburger rolls of choice
The Bistro’s Burger Sauce
Rhubarb Relish
Cheddar Cheese Slices
Red Onion
Tomato
Bread and Butter Pickles
6 thin slices Proscuitto
Maple Syrup and Brown Sugar (for candying the Proscuitto and pineapple)
Fresh pineapple, sliced between 1/8” and ¼” thick

Method:

For the Bistro Burger Sauce, mix all ingredients together well. Store in tightly sealed jar.  Refrigerate for up to one week.

For the Frozen Flavour Burst Logs, combine the butter, mustard, Parmesan Cheese, and parsley together. In teaspoon measures, portion out the mixture and shape into small logs or disk shapes. Place on plastic-lined tray and freeze for about 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375°F and panini grill to medium-high setting.

For the Burger Patties: In large bowl, mix all burger ingredients just until combined, adding more bread crumbs if necessary to achieve desired consistency.

Measure the meat mixture into six (6) equal portions (apx. 4 oz each). With hands, gently and loosely clump together the meat and enclose one frozen flavour burst log into centre of each burger and surround it with meat mixture.  Shape into patties that are apx. 1” thick (or to desired thickness to match size of hamburger roll). Refrigerate for one hour before cooking to allow patties to firm up and give flavours time to blend.

Heat 1½ – 2 tbsp cooking oil in frypan over medium high heat.  Sear burgers, two minutes each side. Do not press down on the burgers.  Remove from frypan and brush Blueberry Barbeque Sauce over both sides of burgers and transfer to greased wire rack suspended over baking pan (to catch any drips).  Bake in pre-heated oven until desired doneness is reached, adding the cheese slices to the burgers for the last minute of baking.

To candy the prosciutto – mix together 2 tbsp maple syrup with 2 tbsp. brown sugar.  Lightly brush each thin slice of prosciutto with the mixture, being careful not to tear the delicate meat. Place over greased wire rack suspended over baking pan. Bake in 375° oven for apx 7-10 minutes or until prosciutto is browned and starts to become crispy.

Fresh pineapple slices can be added to the burgers without glazing them. However, to glaze the pineapple slices, mix together 2 tbsp maple syrup with 2 tbsp brown sugar. Lightly brush mixture on both sides of each pineapple slice and place slices on panini grill (set at medium-high) and press grill top down on to pineapple slices and grill on medium-high for about 1-2 minutes, or until pineapple is heated and has grill marks.

To assemble burgers:

Select hamburger rolls of choice and split in half, horizontally.  Butter each half and, if desired, toast on grill or in oven.  Slather a generous helping of burger sauce on the bottom half of each roll. Add lettuce and then the burger.  Add pickles, sliced tomato, onion, candied prosciutto, rhubarb relish, and maple glazed pineapple. Place the top halves of the rolls on each burger and garnish each with a chunk of fresh pineapple and a cherry tomato.  Serve with your favorite side salad or home fries.

Yield:  Apx. 6 – 4oz burgers.

Burger-Making Hints and Additional Information on The Bistro Burger Ingredients

 

Meat

To get the juicy burger, there needs to be some fat mixed in with the meat. While I normally choose extra lean ground beef for recipes, the one exception I make to that is for burgers. The general standard is a ratio of 80:20 meat-to-fat content. My preference is to use ground chuck that is freshly ground by my local butcher while I wait. Burgers are no different than any other food – fresh is always best!

To get a really tasty burger, I like to enhance the meat with additional flavour, moisture, and some sort of binding agent(s).  For mine, I enhanced the flavour with some grated Parmesan cheese, onion and garlic salts, dry onion soup mix, cayenne pepper, salt, and pepper.  To give additional moisture (and flavor) to the burger, I used some of my blueberry barbeque sauce  along with maple syrup (I used a chipotle and lemon grass infused syrup but plain maple syrup works well, too). Medium-grind bread crumbs add structure to the burger and help hold it together along with the addition of an egg. Don’t use fine bread crumbs that would typically be used to bread chicken, for example, as these are too fine and won’t add the needed structure and stability to the burger that coarser bread crumbs will provide. As well, if the bread crumbs are too fine, it will take too many which changes the texture of the burger. To make the recipe gluten-free, use gluten-free breadcrumbs.

To give an extra burst of flavor in each burger, I mix butter, mustard, finely grated parmesan cheese, and parsley together and, using a teaspoon measure, portion out and form the mixture into small logs or disks which I freeze for about 30 minutes. As I am forming each patty, I enclose one of the flavor burst logs in the centre, surrounded by the meat. As the burger cooks, it melts the flavour log and releases and distributes the flavour burst inside each burger.

When forming the burger patties, it is very important not to over knead the meat or the result will be a tough burger.  It’s the same principle as applies to pastry or biscuit dough – too much kneading and you won’t have a tender product. Basically, just loosely clump together the burger mixture with your hands and form it into a disk shape.  Resist the urge to pack the meat tightly or press down/flatten the patties as this, too, will create a tough burger.

The standard pre-cooked weight of each of my hamburger patties is approximately 4 oz and each one is about 1” thick.

Onions

My preference, if using raw onion on the burger, is to use red onions for both their flavour and color.  Other options include fried or carmelized onions or even onion jam. While carmelized onions and onion jam are tasty, they don’t necessarily go with all burgers. The other ingredients and, particularly, the relishes or sauces used (and how many) will dictate the best way to present onions in the burger.

Sauce

A good sauce enhances the flavour of the burger. I use my own recipe made with mayonnaise, maple syrup, ketchup, rhubarb relish, mustard, sour cream, and some garlic and onion seasoning. This sauce contains the traditional condiments of mustard and ketchup but blends them with other complimentary flavours. The result is a colorful and tasty orange sauce. Truffle ketchup adds an “earthy” flavor to this sauce but it is an acquired taste. Any variety of tomato ketchup will work just fine.

Relish

Traditionally, a sweet pickle relish has been used on burgers. However, to bring out the savory meat flavour, I am using my own recipe for rhubarb relish. You can access my recipe here. This relish works well with the other ingredients in this burger and ties in with the flavor of the sauce so I’m not introducing another flavor to confuse the taste buds.  The sweetness of the rhubarb relish effectively counters, but blends in a positive way with, the savory flavour of the beef.

Rhubarb Relish
Rhubarb Relish

Cheese

Choose a cheese that melts well like a good quality cheddar, for example.  I’m using COWS Creamery Extra-Old Cheddar produced here on PEI where it has been aged for at least two (2) years.  This is a high quality cheese with rich, deep flavour that really compliments the beef well. The cheese has a firm texture and is a slower melting cheese. In fact, as it melts, it forms almost a second sauce on the burger and has a lovely tangy bite to it.

Prosciutto

While traditionally eaten raw, I have chosen to candy the prosciutto with a mixture of brown sugar and maple syrup. All I did for this process was very lightly brush both sides of the prosciutto with the mixture, lay it over a greased wire rack suspended over a baking pan, and bake it in a 375°F oven for apx 7-10 minutes, just until it is browned and crispy.  This gives both flavor and a crunchy texture to the burger.

Barbeque Sauce

I used my own Blueberry Barbeque Sauce (recipe here) for my burgers.  This dark barbeque sauce adds both flavor and a rich, deep color to the burger.

Blueberry Barbeque Sauce
Blueberry Barbeque Sauce

Lettuce

Bright green lettuce adds great color to burgers.  Choose a “sturdy” lettuce for burgers, such as that found on head lettuce (e.g. Boston lettuce).  These are strong leaves that don’t tend to wilt so quickly as, for example, delicate lettuce leaves like the mesclun mix, when they come into contact with hot burgers.

Pickles

My preference for pickles in the burger are sweet homemade bread and butter pickles (get my recipe here).

Bread and Butter Pickles
Bread and Butter Pickles

These are a lovely, crisp pickle and their acidity plays off sweetness of any fruit added to the burger as well as the sauce.  Pickles contribute a bit of sweet tang to the burger experience.

Pineapple

I like to add some sweetness to my burgers by adding a slice of fruit such as pineapple.  The choice of fruit, however, has to be one that, structurally, is strong enough to hold together in the burger.  I have chosen pineapple for this burger as it “holds its own” and pairs very well with the rhubarb relish and blueberry barbeque sauce.  I cut the pineapple slice between 1/8” and ¼” thick, brush some of the brown sugar and maple syrup glaze on it, and grill it on my panini grill for a few minutes – just long enough for the pineapple to warm up and release its natural sweetness and get those wonderful grill marks that are very attractive.

"The Bistro Burger"
“The Bistro Burger”

Hamburger Rolls

There are so many options for hamburger rolls – too many to list.  I prefer ones that are not too soft as they quickly become soggy when the burger ingredients are added to the point that they sometimes break down before the burger even reaches the table.  The hamburger rolls used in the photos in this posting are gluten-free homemade rolls. Whatever variety of rolls are chosen, they should be size-appropriate in relation to the burger – i.e., the patty should not extend beyond the sides of the roll but neither should it look like a little meatball in the center of the roll.

Cooking the Burger

There are a multitude of ways in which burgers can be cooked – grilled, broiled, sautéed, barbequed, fried, baked or, sometimes, a combination thereof. I recommend cooking them to your personal preferred method.  For the ones in the photos in this post, I seared the burgers over medium-high heat in a heavy-bottomed frypan for 2 minutes on each side, without touching them and never flattening them.  Any time a burger is pressed down when it is being cooked, it squeezes out the juices in the burger, resulting in a dry, tough burger.

After the searing process is complete, I remove the burgers from the pan and brush both sides with the blueberry barbeque sauce. I then transfer the burgers to a greased wire rack suspended over a baking pan (to catch any drips) and finish cooking the burgers in a 375°F oven. Placing the burgers on a cooking rack allows the heat and air to circulate around the burgers resulting in more even cooking. I am a big fan of using meat thermometers and I do use one when cooking the burgers so they are cooked to my personal preference.

Side Dishes

The most common side dishes served with burgers are fries.

"The Bistro Burger" with Homemade Fries
“The Bistro Burger” with Homemade Fries

However, salads with vinaigrettes also work well as side dishes to burgers.

"The Bistro Burger" with a Side Salad
“The Bistro Burger” with a Side Salad

Wine Pairing

While a robust red wine or a beer are often paired with a burger, I have chosen to pair this one with Villa Bianchi’s Verdicchio Dei Castelli Di Jesi (Italy 2014). Pairing a white wine with a beef burger works so long as the wine chosen has a high degree of acidity to counter the protein and fat of the burger (not that my burger is a “fatty” one!). With floral and citrus notes along with a hint of almond, this Verdicchio is fresh and crisp and I found it compliments this burger nicely.

"The Bistro Burger"
“The Bistro Burger”

Bon Appetit!

The Bistro Burger

Yield: Apx. 6 servings

Serving Size: 4 oz

A delectable burger that combines flavours complimentary to savory beef

Ingredients

  • The Bistro’s Burger Sauce
  • 1/3 cup mayonnaise
  • 2½ tbsp pure maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp ketchup
  • 2 tbsp rhubarb relish (for recipe, visit My Island Bistro Kitchen's "Recipe" page)
  • 1½ tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1½ tbsp. sour cream
  • ½ tsp onion salt
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Yield: Apx. 1 cup
  • Frozen Flavor Burst Logs:
  • 2 tbsp butter, softened at room temperature
  • 2½ tsp mustard (Dijon or sweet)
  • 2 tbsp finely grated Parmesan Cheese
  • 1½ tsp dried parsley
  • Yield: Apx. 6 Logs
  • Burger Patties:
  • 1 lb ground chuck (apx 80:20 ratio meat-to-fat content)
  • ¼ cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tbsp Blueberry Barbeque Sauce (for recipe, visit My Island Bistro Kitchen's "Recipe" page)
  • 1½ tbsp maple syrup
  • ½ tsp onion salt
  • ¼ tsp garlic salt
  • 2 tsp dry onion soup mix
  • Pinch cayenne pepper
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • ¼ cup+ medium-ground bread crumbs
  • Yield: Apx. 6 patties
  • Cooking oil
  • Blueberry Barbeque Sauce
  • 6 hamburger rolls of choice
  • The Bistro’s Burger Sauce
  • Rhubarb Relish
  • Cheddar Cheese Slices
  • Red Onion
  • Tomato
  • Bread and Butter Pickles (for recipe, visit My Island Bistro Kitchen's "Recipe" page)
  • 6 thin slices Proscuitto
  • Maple Syrup and Brown Sugar (for candying the Proscuitto and pineapple)
  • Fresh pineapple, sliced between 1/8” and ¼” thick

Instructions

  1. For the Burger Sauce, combine all ingredients in a jar and mix well. Store in refrigerator, for up to 7 days.
  2. For the Frozen Flavour Burst logs, combine the butter, mustard, Parmesan Cheese, and parsley together. In teaspoon measures, portion out the mixture and shape into small logs or disk shapes. Place on plastic-lined tray and freeze for about 30 minutes.
  3. Preheat oven to 375°F and panini grill to medium-high setting.
  4. For burger patties: In large bowl, mix all burger ingredients just until combined, adding more bread crumbs if necessary to achieve desired consistency.
  5. Measure the meat mixture into six (6) equal portions (apx. 4 oz each). With hands, gently and loosely clump together the meat and enclose one frozen flavour burst log into centre of each burger and surround it with meat mixture. Shape into patties that are apx. 1” thick (or to desired thickness to match size of hamburger roll). Refrigerate for one hour before cooking to allow patties to firm up and give flavours time to blend.
  6. Heat 1½ - 2 tbsp cooking oil in frypan over medium high heat. Sear burgers, two minutes each side. Do not press down on the burgers. Remove from frypan and brush Blueberry Barbeque Sauce over both sides of burgers and transfer to greased wire rack suspended over baking pan (to catch any drips). Bake in pre-heated oven until desired doneness is reached, adding the cheese slices to the burgers for the last minute of baking.
  7. To candy the prosciutto – mix together 2 tbsp maple syrup with 2 tbsp. brown sugar. Lightly brush each thin slice of prosciutto with the mixture, being careful not to tear the delicate meat. Place over greased wire rack suspended over baking pan. Bake in 375° oven for apx 7-10 minutes or until prosciutto is browned and starts to become crispy.
  8. Fresh pineapple slices can be added to the burgers without glazing them. However, to glaze the pineapple slices, mix together 2 tbsp maple syrup with 2 tbsp brown sugar. Lightly brush mixture on both sides of each pineapple slice and place slices on panini grill (set at medium-high) and press grill top down on to pineapple slices and grill on medium-high for about 1-2 minutes, or until pineapple is heated and has grill marks.
  9. To assemble burgers:
  10. Select hamburger rolls of choice and split in half, horizontally. Butter each half and, if desired, toast on grill or in oven. Slather a generous helping of burger sauce on the bottom half of each roll. Add lettuce and then the burger. Add pickles, sliced tomato, onion, candied prosciutto, rhubarb relish, and maple glazed pineapple. Place the top halves of the rolls on each burger and garnish each with a chunk of fresh pineapple and a cherry tomato. Serve with your favorite side salad or home fries.
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"The Bistro Burger"
“The Bistro Burger”

Ingredient Sourcing:

Burger Sauce – my own homemade recipe
Blueberry Barbeque Sauce – my own sauce recipe made with blueberries from Murray’s U-pick in North Tryon, PEI
Ground Beef Patty – ground chuck, sourced from KJL Meats in Charlottetown, PEI. I had the butcher grind the beef especially to my personal specification using a ratio of approximately 20% fat to 80% meat to give that juicy burger result.
Cheese – COWS Extra-old Cheddar from COWS Creamery, North River, PEI
Bread and Butter Pickles – my own homemade recipe made with cucumbers from Balderston’s Farm Stand, Stratford, PEI
Tomatoes – organic, from the greenhouses of the Schurman Family Farm in Spring Valley, PEI
Rhubarb Relish – my own homemade recipe made with rhubarb from my garden

 

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