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Bob Hart shares his secret to the world’s best burger

Peter 'Grubby' Stubbs
Article image for Bob Hart shares his secret to the world’s best burger


Many regard a hamburger as basic, uncomplicated barbecue fare of no distinction. And this is all it will be if you don’t think long and hard about it.

But if you allocate a few more dollars and a bit more effort, you can deliver a burger that will bedazzle your friends, confound your enemies, and even make your own head spin while cementing your reputation as a burger-master..

It is as much a matter of what not to do, however, as what to do. For example:

  • Do not buy pre-made meat patties, supermarket mince or even pre-made butchers’ mince. Instead, buy prime cuts such as slabs of scotch fillet and process the whole steaks, fat and all, rather than mincing them.
  • Add nothing except sea salt and freshly ground pepper to your patties. If you add onions, garlic, breadcrumbs, egg, chilli or anything else, you will have made rissoles, or maybe meatloaf, not burgers.
  • Do not use mediocre bread rolls. Pick up large brioche or milk rolls.
  • Finally, do not overcook your patties, and do not over- garnish or over-dress the burgers. Keep them pure, simple and exquisite.

In summary, try this: pick up a prime scotch fillet steak of at least 200g per person, and large brioche rolls. The meat will not be cheap: for around $40-$50 a kg, it will be about twice the price of butchers’ mince. But at least twice as good, also. And you will use all of it, including the fat.

Salt the steaks generously at least 4 hours before you cook them. Use a food processor to chop the meat and fat into coarse mince. Shape firmly into burger patties, indenting the middle of each with your thumb so that when the centre puffs slightly on the grill, as it will, you will have allowed for it. Place the raw patties on a platter or plate, cover, and return to the fridge. Take them out at least 45 minutes before you cook them, lightly oil them and re-season with freshly ground black pepper and a pinch of finely chopped fresh rosemary needles.

Ensure your charcoal grill is clean, very hot (220°C/430°F) and oiled. The patties will hold together beautifully if you have shaped the meat firmly, and allowed them to set in the fridge.

So now, cook them quickly — I would cook each for just under 2 minutes on the first side, flip, and cook for a bit less (1 min 45 sec) on the second side. Flip again, turn through 90 degrees and cook for a bit less again (1 min 30 sec), and then repeat for the final side (1 min 15 sec). Then, off. Drop that lid whenever you can. This should result in handsomely grill-marked patties cooked to a perfect medium rare.

Place the cooked patties on a warm rack and lightly tent with foil as you prepare the buns. Lightly toast the cut sides of your buns and place a pattie on each of the grilled bases. Top each pattie with a splodge of chipotle ketchup — puréed, tinned chipotle peppers in adobo stirred into ketchup at your discretion. Top with a clump of dressed coleslaw. And finally, layer plain potato crisps on the slaw before replacing the tops of the buns.

And now, eat. And be amazed. And don’t even think about bacon, cheese, eggs and/or bloody beetroot. It’s a beef burger. Plain and simple.

Got it?

Peter 'Grubby' Stubbs