Ring forms are like cookie cutters, except will dull edges. They are useful to manipulate hamburger patties into uniform shapes and thickness.People are always telling me how many ring forms they recently purchased so that they could mass produce their sous vide patties.
The fact is, if you use Ziploc freezer bags to do your processing, the ring form need never actually enter the bag. You only need ONE. Simply put the desired weight of ground beef into the Ziploc bag, put the ring over it, and push it into shape (shown below). So simple, I admit, it took a while for it to come to me.
Chamber vacuums and foodsaver devices do a good job compressing the ground beef, just like the commercial butcher equipment does. It does involve that extra step, and if you don’t put the ring inside the bag, the vacuum will taper the edges somewhat. You wouldn’t think people would notice that, but they do!
This time around, we processed the smaller patty
and the larger patty
Note: The ground beef will not pasteurize at these temperatures unless you extend the duration to four hours for the larger burger and two hours for the smaller one. If you choose to pasteurize, the medium rare burger MAY lose a little bit of it’s pink color, because of the dissipation of myoglobin. Still fully wholesome, in fact, more so.
This doesn’t seem like much of a difference in temperature. Both of the patties have the same circumference. The searing process will bring the thinner patty to “Medium Well,” pretty quickly. The thicker burger should maintain a “Medium Rare” appearance.
Before I sear the burgers, I butter the buns and toast them in the broiler pan (not shown). This is not really toasting, but it’s what I like. Just how a hamburger bun should be toasted can start a lengthy and heated debate in some circles.
I like lettuce on my sandwiches, ALL sandwiches, but if I put as much as I want on a burger, it just shoots out the other side when I take a bite. Shredding the lettuce helps a little, but I still see a lot of roughage on my plate as I finish my burger. So, I do this:
This is shredded lettuce that I seasoned very lightly and then vacuumed. It can also be done in a Foodsaver, and the effect is almost instantaneous. It can be done in a Ziploc bag as well, it just takes about an hour to fully cure. It is not quite as crisp as the lettuce that is falling off of my sandwich, but it is very delicious and slaw like. It clings to the sandwich, so, mission accomplished!
Searing the patties…
People enjoy telling each other just how amazingly hot they got their pan or bbq before they seared their burgers. This does create a sensational aroma in the vicinity, along with a lot of smoke and coughing. As long as your pan is “quite hot,” you will have very desirable results.
I put the large cast iron grill pan on the SMALL front burner, and leave it on high the whole time. I also give it at least five minutes to preheat. And old joke from the restaurant kitchen, when novice cooks asked how long it would take to sear the burger, we would scowl and say
“When it’s brown, it’s done.
When it’s BLACK, YOU’RE done.”
I vacuum sealed the cheese (again, Ziploc, whatever), to pre-soften it in the 135F/57C bath. It takes a higher temperature to really make the cheese run. This gives you a head start and the torch does a nice job creating a nice little crust, another pleasing aroma. I always tell people, we taste what we smell. If we don’t smell it, we are unlikely to taste it.
Remove the burgers from the bath, but do not shock them cold (unless you plan to eat them tomorrow). Let them cool on the counter, just to make them easier to handle. Remove from the bag, and carefully lay in the pan.
Once they are flipped, you can put the cheese on top to melt. This can also be done in the oven with the salamander function, but it’s a little inconvenient. A lid will help melt the cheese, but it will also make the burger lose it’s pink color.
I don’t know what it is, but burgers really look good on a plate. I made some Yukon Gold potato chips, very easy and NOT sous vide. Despite our efforts, sous vide potato chips are not meant to be. The same goes for sous vide French fries. The results are good, but nobody is going to be fooled.
Even though this burger was so small, sous vide really does limit shrinking. I made the larger burger for my self. I had a hard time finishing it, although finish it I did.
You can see how the lettuce appears more “slaw” like.
For me, it’s not a burger unless it has a tomato. It came down to the question “Do I really want to go to the store, JUST for a tomato?” The answer was no, I hope you understand!
People ask me “but, Norm, do you REALLY think that a burger NEEDS to be sous vide processed?” I tell them this:
Nothing really NEEDS to be processed sous vide, and that is not the question. The question is “Does a burger BENEFIT from being processed sous vide?” For me, the answer is yes.