The standard hamburger will never go out of style. Fire up the grill and toss on some patties, and no one will complain that their hunk of meat isn’t innovative enough. As with anything creative, however, there are those who look to push the envelope. Here are some modern spins on the classic burger.
Cooking sous-vide has become a staple in many restaurants, and it’s an awesome way to get a juicy burger. The method, which means “under vacuum” in French, relies on cooking the meat in a sealed bag (don’t vacuum seal it) submerged in a water bath at a consistent temperature. Whereas overcooked burgers from the grill are common, cooking sous-vide keeps the meat from getting any hotter than the temp you set the bath at (around 130 degrees works). After the patty has cooked for a good amount of time in the water, give it a quick sear on both sides to form a crust and lock in the juices.
When Nathan Myhrvold and Maxime Bilet set out to create the perfect burger, one of the things they used to achieve the ideal patty was liquid nitrogen. After pulling the burger from a sous-vide machine, the duo dipped it in liquid nitrogen to freeze the surface of the meat before frying it. The technique allows you to develop an amazing crust without overcooking the inside and drying out the burger.
Affectionately known as “meat glue,” transglutaminase allows you to mix proteins together into one strong blend that can resemble an uncut muscle. While using it to create burgers isn’t its most insane application (meat pasta, anyone?), you can use it to make some interesting patty blends.
While you probably don’t want to use agar agar to create a patty, you can use it to make your toppings a little on the wild side. It won’t add any flavor, but it will allow you to make custards and jellies out of the condiments you might put on your burger. This recipe from the Molecule-R kit gives you an idea of how to use it to make mustard and ketchup caviar.