Top patties: Morton’s meat methods
Yeah, at some level it’s unfair to even let a steakhouse compete in the burger issue; they could be tossing a New York strip/filet mignon combo in the hand grinder every time an order comes in. But, as it turns out, the top patty in the Current’s Burger Issue doesn’t rely on meat alone: at almost one egg per burger, plus tomato juice, they’re bound to be rich and succulent.
“The key things are, make sure when you put all the ingredients together, don’t overmix,” says Chef Jose Garcia of Morton’s San Antonio. Don’t go with the leanest ground beef; an 80/20 ratio is ideal, he says. Make the patties about ½-inch thick, and follow the cross-hatch directions to keep them from shrinking into thick pucks.
“They need to make sure the grill or broiler is not too hot, about 400 degrees, says Garcia, “and `make` a nice, even patty,” so you don’t end up with crispy edges and a rare middle. “Also, two minutes before it’s ready you can add the cheese,” he says. “And they need to make sure the buns are hot.”
See how it’s done at Morton’s, Sundays only, through the end of November. Five dollars of the $19.78 price (not coincidentally, the year the burger was introduced) goes to the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
— Elaine Wolff
Serves 6 (note: multiply by 10 if you’re using the Liberty Bar bun recipe)
4 lbs. coarse-grind ground sirloin
4 large eggs
¾ c tomato juice
1 T salt
1 t freshly ground black pepper
6 large hamburger buns
3 T clarified butter
6 ½-inch thick slices tomato
6 ¼-inch thick slices Spanish onion
6 large leaves iceberg lettuce
Ketchup or another topping, for serving
1. Preheat the broiler. Lightly oil and position the rack as close to the heat source as possible.
2. In a mixing bowl, combine the sirloin, eggs, tomato juice, salt, and pepper. Use your hands or a wooden spoon to mix thoroughly. Divide the meat into six equal portions and gently form them into patties. Transfer to the broiler pan, and using a small sharp knife, make a crosshatch mark on the top of each burger about 1/8 inch deep. (This lets the juices percolate through the burger, and we also like the way it looks.)
3. Brush the inside of each bun with the butter. Toast the buns in the broiler for about 30 seconds on each side, or until lightly browned; be careful that the buns don’t get too browned. Remove the buns and cover to keep warm. Reposition the broiler tray so that it is about 6 inches from the heat.
4. Broil the burgers for 3 to 3.5 minutes on each side for rare, 4 minutes on each side for medium-rare, and 4.5 to 5 minutes on each side for medium.
5. To serve, put the bottom half of each bun on a plate. Top with a burger and then a tomato slice, onion slice, and lettuce leaf. Add the top of the bun. Repeat. Serve with ketchup if desired.