James Whelan Butchers: The Perfect Burger

The-Perfect-BurgerI think everyone strives to make/cook the perfect burger.Making a small batch of burgers for an occasion gives you licence to be really creative.This original recipe was given to me by a great friend Adam Perry Lang.I have tweaked it over the years but I think these burgers are really special and worth the effort

Process: Simple
Cooking: Beef
Preparation: Quick Cook (up to 30 mins)

Making patties from lean ground beef and hoping for perfectly juicy burgers is like building a ship out of bricks and hoping it floats. You have to start with the right meat. For me, the ultimate is a blend of 70 % lean and 2o%fatty and i like to include 10% pork.That generous touch of fat and and mixture of pork brings just the right amount of richness and lubricates the meat while it’s cooking.I always only season the outside of each burger as i am about to cook it rather than adding salt to the entire mix as i think this approach makes the meat chewy.

And also remember that the secret to an amazing salty, slightly crunchy crust is not high heat but a super-hot surface—an important distinction.


  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 4 to 4 1/4 pounds 70/30 (70% lean, 20 %fat) ground beef, 10% minced pork preferably a combination of chuck, and brisket

Seasoning Salt:

  • 1 tablespoon garlic salt
  • 1 tablespoon lemon pepper

Basting Butter:

  • 8 tablespoons (4 ounces) unsalted butter
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled, halved, germ removed, and grated on a Microplane grater
  • 1⁄4 cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 teaspoons coarsely ground fresh black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil
  • 2 sweet white onions, cut into 1⁄2-inch slices
  • 2 tablespoons (1 ounce) unsalted butter, plus additional for the buns
  • 11⁄2 teaspoons crushed hot red pepper flakes
  • 1 bunch thyme tied in an Herb Bundle
  • 8 sesame seed buns
  • 16 small slices mild cheddar cheese, or other sliced or crumbled cheese of choice (optional)

Serves: 6-8

To Cook

Combine the water and Worcestershire sauce and, using your hands, blend into the beef until evenly distributed. Divide the meat into eight equal parts, roll into balls (but do not overwork the meat because it will toughen your burgers), and flatten into discs about 1⁄2 inch thick and 41⁄2 to 5 inches in diameter. Chill for at least 1 hour or up to 1 day. 2. Place a cast- iron griddle on one area of a well- oiled charcoal or gas grill. Preheat all areas to high.  3. Combine the seasoning salt ingredients. Combine all of the basting butter ingredients over medium heat and pour into a baking dish or disposable aluminum pan. Cooking Method 4. Swab the oil on the griddle, top with the onions, close the lid, and cook until golden, about 3 minutes. Flip, close the lid, and cook for another 3 minutes. If you have a grill press(es) or a firebrick( s) (see Sources page 378) wrapped in heavy- duty aluminum foil, it is ideal to keep on hand to maximize the caramelization. Brush the onions with the 2 tablespoons of butter, sprinkle with the pepper flakes, and continue to cook until caramelized and tender. Transfer the onions to a bowl and cover to keep warm while the burgers cook. Do not clean the griddle.  5. It is preferable that the burgers be moved to a clean area of the griddle and grill every time they are flipped. Depending on the griddle and grill size, they will need to be cooked in batches to ensure there is a clean portion of the griddle and grill to flip to. (It is best to read the full step below first before continuing.) Season both sides of the burgers, using about half of the seasoning salt. Place 4 burgers on the exposed grate, keeping the other half clean to flip to. Close the lid, and cook the burgers until the meat easily separates from the grate and is well marked, about 2 minutes. Flip the burgers to the clean section, close the lid, and cook without moving them for 2 minutes more. Season the burgers with the remaining seasoning salt. Transfer the burgers to the griddle, brush with the basting butter using the herb bundle, and continue to cook, flipping once (at this point the second 4 burgers can be started on the grate, see below) until you reach the desired doneness. Cook 2 to 3 minutes for rare, about 4 minutes for medium, and about 5 to 6 for well- done. Once the first 4 burgers are on the griddle, scrape the grates, re- oil, and repeat the grilling process. As the burgers reach the desired doneness on the griddle, transfer them to a sheet pan and cover with foil while the other burgers cook.  6. When all the burgers have been cooked, turn off the heat on all areas of the grill. Brush the buns with butter and top the burgers with the cheese, if using. Close the lid for 1 to 2 minutes to melt the cheese and toast the buns. Serve the burgers on the toasted buns. © 2009 APL Creative Inc from Serious Barbecue.

We hope you enjoyed reading this post by Pat Whelan of James Whelan Butchers. Pat is a 5th generation butcher, cook book author and the director of  James Whelan Butchers with shops in Clonmel, the Avoca Handweavers Rathcoole and Kilmacanogue, Dunnes Stores Cornelscourt, Rathmines and Swords. Sign up to our newsletter for more updates from James Whelan Butchers

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