How to Build the Perfect Burger
Sure, you’ve probably had a few burgers this summer, but it’s probably not something that you think about very deeply. However, there’s quite a history to the hamburger. In fact, enough history that someone’s written a complete book about it. It’s called The World is Your Burger: A Cultural History by David Michaels.
We were surprised to learn that the roots of the burger reach back to the 1st century AD in Rome and that the cheese on a burger debuted in 1925 in Pasadena, California. The book covers all the icons, including of course the fast food joints that made grabbing a burger as easy as pulling up to a screen and belting out an order.
Making a burger at home isn’t quite like that, and thank goodness. A burger from the grill is a thing of beauty. It can be customized not only by the chef, but for each diner, with a quick swap of toppings. It can go with nearly any side, from a simple salad to duck fat potatoes.
And while the classic burger is made with ground beef, there are countless ways to build a patty from your favorite ingredients. And we’d like to argue that with so much versatility, burgers might be the ultimate wine pairing partner — just slide around the choices until the ideal combo for your tastes on any given day takes shape.
Need a bit of kitchen guidance? Here’s the quick Verve Wine burger recipe guide.
1. Choose your protein
Head to the butcher or market and get what you need for the patty. This could be ground beef or turkey, veggies or black beans, or something unique — we’re fans of the ground chuck-and-sirloin combo. And it doesn’t stop there. You can request that your beef be dry-aged, grass fed, USDA Prime, organic, and more.
2. Break out the buns
And make it brioche or nothing else. Just kidding. There are plenty of options for the burger carrier part of the dish. Even grocery store shelves range from potato buns to stadium buns to sliders to pretzel rolls. If you hit the bakery there are artisanal rolls, sesame rolls, gluten-free, or ciabatta. We love to butter the inside and toast it, but that’s not necessary. In fact, some people just eat their burger with lettuce, for dietary and lifestyle reasons.
3. Time for toppings
Let’s start with cheese. Yes or no? If you’re including cheese there are so many options, with cheddar, American (not exactly cheese, but it melts smoothly), pepper Jack, and swiss being fan favorites. Ask the deli to slice the cheese thin so you can let it melt over the patty just before pulling it off the grill. You know the classic accouterments (ketchup and mustard with pickle, tomato, onion, and lettuce) but the sky's the limit here: caramelized onions, sautéed mushrooms, guac, bacon, peppers, salsa — all of these are a go.
4. Pop the cork
For most of these burgers, medium bodied reds like Rhône blends, Sangiovese, or Malbec are typically solid picks. If dining outside during the summer, a chillable red is a good option, think of a Beaujolais or Cabernet Franc. If you’ve got a super meaty burger or a lot of rich toppings, a bold red like a Cali Cab or Rioja will go nicely. For veggie and bean burgers, try a chilled dry rosé, Chardonnay or a light, earthy Pinot Noir. Versatile wines are the best bet with burgers, so everyone can pick their toppings and their sides and pour a glass without a fuss.
Having a barbecue? Get our 6 tips for putting together a case of summer BBQ wine or give us a call and we can help build you a mixed case (and deliver it!).
Oh, and one last thing about burgers. You know what goes best with burgers, right? French fries. For a run down on how to make them at home, check out these hacks from Bon Appétit. Don’t forget the sea salt!