I'm a big fan of Serious Eats' hamburger-centric site A Hamburger Today, especially the posts on that site that really get down into the actual process of making a burger. One of their writers, burger genius J. Kenji Lopez-Alt, recently debuted a column called The Burger Lab, where he breaks down the components of various burgers and rebuilds them from scratch. Inspired by Mr. Lopez-Alt's ambitious creations, I wanted to try and make a pork-based burger that riffs off of Umami Burger's Triple-Pork burger, a chorizo-bacon-ground pork affair that I haven't tried, but did sound pretty delicious to me from their menu. So, with the burger-making tips I've picked up from AHT and other sites firmly in mind, I set out to make a Patty Melt using a homemade pork-based patty.
The first cut of meat I selected for the patty was country-style boneless pork ribs, which are not really ribs at all, but loin cuts close to the shoulder. There's a little marbling on them, but not a ton, and probably not enough to make for a juicy burger. Usually what I do with this cut is braise them and eat them as knife-and-fork ribs, slathered in a little quick homemade BBQ sauce made from the reduced braising liquid. I think these ribs have a really nice flavor, so they made up the majority of each patty.
The first real step of this process was to pop my knife in the freezer for 15 minutes. I read somewhere that if you're going to chop up meat, this is the best way to go, because the coldness of the knife will ensure a smoother, easier cut through the meat. It's like the expression "a hot knife through butter," except, y'know, a cold knife through meat.
Okay, so here we have the steps involved in getting these country-style ribs into something we can make into a patty. On the right, we have the ribs themselves, chopped into large chunks. Then, on the left, each of those chunks has been chopped into small, M&M-size pieces (or thereabouts). The cold knife really was a huge help in this process.
Once two ribs are completely chopped up, gather your meat together and move it off to the side of your cutting board.
As you can see above, the problem at this point is that the burger patties are going to end up very dry if they're cooked right now. So, we need to add a little fat content to them. Take out two slices of bacon--
--and chop those up very fine.
Mix your chopped bacon and your chopped country-style ribs together.
Add a little kosher salt, freshly ground black pepper, and worcester sauce.
Finally, form three patties from your mixture.
Preheat your griddle to medium-high and add just enough oil to prevent sticking--the thinnest sheen. These will need about 7 minutes on each side, or until fully cooked. When you put the burger on the griddle, flatten it out a little with your spatula to ensure even cooking throughout. When you flip the burger, place some sliced extra sharp Cabot Cheddar on top of the cooked side to melt. Just before your patties are fully cooked, toast 6 slices of San Francisco Sourdough or any basic sandwich bread. This recipe is for three burgers (I packed the third burger in Jen's Bento the next day--more on that on Friday).
Patty melts often have caramelized onions on them, but Jen is strongly anti-onion, so we forewent those. The patty/cheese/bread combination was very satisfying and the patty melt had a great pork-y flavor, with little bits of crispy bacon studded throughout the patty. Enjoy!
Thanks for stopping by Beach City Cooking, and I'll see you all tomorrow for another post. Have a great night, and stay cool!