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comment by kleinbl00
kleinbl00  ·  5 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Tips for Better Burgers

vegetarian shit-stirrer

For argument's sake, many of these are basic America's Test Kitchen / Betty Crocker / Irma Rombauer / Gourmet basics. There's nothing new under the sun, other than the tedious urgency with which Serious Eats approaches everything.

And for argument's sake, I endorse/support the following:

1) Yes, use freshly-ground beef. Texture and taste are radically improved. Plus I doctor the bejeesus out of my burgers and comixing is easier with a meat grinder.

2) Cold meat definitely forms easier patties but fucking give it a rest. If you aren't making truffles or pie crust you can probably get by without refrigerating utensils.

3) Yes don't play with it like play doh but if you're grinding your own meat you have to get medieval on it anyway because it comes out of the grinder like breadcrumbs. I would go as far as to say that if you grind your own meat you have to overwork the shit out of hamburger to hurt it.

4) Yes salt the exterior because osmosis causes the surface to dry out and crust over better that's the whole point and if you salt the whole thing it'll be too salty. This isn't rocket science.

5) yes you should make your patties look like red blood cells. Recognize that between grinding your own meat, not working it too much, keeping it cold, salting just the surface and making it look like a red blood cell you're already overthinking it so fucking calm down while you're at it. Have a beer it's a barbecue FFS.

6) I mean yeah salt the outside but don't go crazy the whole point is to taste the goddamn burger. I use garlic salt. I can taste the difference between iodized and non-iodized salt but only when I put them directly on my tongue and if you're using that much salt you've already lost.

7) kk so if you ground your own meat and formed your own patties and manipulated the beef as little as possible them cookies are gonna crumble. Sorry. They just are. And flipping them all the goddamn time is going to launch beefcrumbs into the grill. Also it's tough to get grill marks if you're cointossing your burgers like a nervous gangster and yes you can taste those, you want to taste those. So if you've followed all the instructions up to this point? This instruction is going to give you taco meat.

8) I own two thermapens because my wife doesn't like how the first one conks out in the middle when you open it so she bought us another for Father's Day. I would say it is the number one most useful tool in the kitchen behind pans and knives.

9) jesus christ my wife and kid eat their burgers on rice. Let it the fuck go.

10) Fuckin' burgers are omelets for the fantasy football crowd.

My burgers are goddamn sacrilege. They're about 30% onions by weight and about 5% fresh basil. There's like a teaspoon of Worcestershire sauce per pound and ground pepper in them. They're best when topped with provolone. They are requested at barbecues a lot, I guess because most people just buy Costco frisbees? Or maybe it's because nothing is new under the sun and perhaps purists suck all the fun out of everything.

Quatrarius  ·  5 days ago  ·  link  ·  

damn i really popped off on that one

i gotta say i love serious eats but only because they attempt to explain why you should do the things they're telling you instead of saying "do it like this, jackass" - having said that it's unfortunate that kenji and co. have stunted child palates and only go full analysis on three-ingredient american staples like "the burger" and "the egg" and "the boiled potato" - and you know what, boiling potatoes with 2 qt water 2 tbsp salt 2 tbsp white vinegar makes some baller potato salad so i'm not hating but at a certain point it gets embarrassing to overthink some of this stuff

to be honest the extreme basics of cooking from scratch will take you beyond the average and into the zone of "i feel this was worth my time to make dinner instead of buying smth premade" and that's good enough unless you have a hobbyist interest in cooking

it's kinda like cosmo sex tips for food - you don't need to weigh each patty to make sure they're all exactly 12.5 grams each, just ask her "does this feel good" and you'll get there

kleinbl00  ·  5 days ago  ·  link  ·  

They're so judgy tho.

Food Network really ruined everything. The mantra prior to the fetishization of food was "the minimum number of necessary ingredients of the best quality available." But you can't bukkake all over that. So it was all about squeezing lemon juice through your fingers and separating eggs through your fingers and avoiding unitaskers and Dr. Science™ vignettes about maillard reactions and sous vide and scraping your goddamn teflon pans with your goddamn metal spatulas and nobody will care if you're throwing together a bagful of semi-homemade vomit if you can go whack whack whack whack whack with your serrated K-mart Rachael Ray cooking knives and turn an onion into dice like it stole your lunch money.

The groceries suck too, of course. Why teach people to buy in season if they mostly slurp down Healthy Choice frozen entrees and watch Aarti's Party while they do it so they can feel half-alive. Not that it matters much anyway because it's all ripened on a container ship between Patagonia and Peoria. When there's little difference, taste or texture, between "grapes" and "tomatoes" you might as well pimp your "grape tomatoes".

But yeah. If you have a few good ingredients on hand you can generally make any number of meals out of it. Four sauces, four proteins, two starches, all of American-style Chinese food. Don't let the secret out, though - we save that for "challenges" on Chopped and whatever the hell Gordon Ramsay is doing now. Step on the elevator have to cook on an electric range! The...Horrah

My white trash barbecue food is fresh pineapple and chopped chicken thighs soaked in Mr. Yoshida's for a few hours. Served that up and like three different people decided to try it because apparently we're so busy freaking out about the proper way to use "steak rub" that we've forgotten that less is generally more. It's fucking sad. And these are the same people who wax fucking poetic about their Instant Pot, which they will use three times, and never realize that their grandmother's pressure cooker did the exact same goddamn thing without taking up a third of a counter.

I can't buy rice crispies. Apparently the only place that has them is Target. Rice crispies treats? Yeah they're high-enough margin. But why would you make rice crispies treats, let alone just eat cereal? I can't buy Havarti. I can buy fucking Hatch Chile in eighty goddamn things but I moved a thousand miles so I wouldn't have to eat that shit ever again so fuck you, Kroger.

No I don't wanna eat your gray-ass steak. No I don't wanna eat your gray-ass steak that you "finished" on the grill so that it would be slightly less gray. No I don't care that you boiled it in a plastic bag for three hours at a hundred and thirty five degrees. Actually, that's precisely why I don't want to eat your fucking gray-ass steak. Jesus, man, you spend $200 so you can photo-lab a piece of pork and then insist we go to a fucking restaurant where I pay extra because I have to cook my own food?

And fuckin' Serious Eats is at Ten Things You Must Do To Your Burger If You Want to Date My Daughter and it just wears me the fuck out.

psychoticmilkman  ·  4 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Americans ignoring Havarti is a fucking tragedy. One of the best sandwich cheeses out there.

My cheese stand had 3 different kinds when I started working there, but we discontinued two of them pretty quick. The Havarti with chives did decently well, but only if we pushed it. We were probably close to sampling out half of the bricks of Havarti just to sell the rest.

kleinbl00  ·  4 days ago  ·  link  ·  

The butcher here also sells craptons of hot sauce. It was a dude - DD - who passed on to his son - also DD - so it went from being "DD meats" to being "Double DD Meats" and it's now run by DD Jr's wife, who added a bunch of groceries.

Prior to the pandemic they had like five kinds of havarti. It was awesome. They had the dill stuff, which I love, which she would buy in like ten pound blocks and then chop up into 3/4lb slabs that she'd sell I swear damn near at cost. Then covid hit and steadily the havarti went away.

I asked her about it. "Will it be coming back when things are back to normal?" "Probably not. I don't have time to cut it up anymore and frankly, you and I are the only ones eating it."

psychoticmilkman  ·  4 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Oh shit Yes! Dill! Not chives. I got that mixed up. It was the best one!

Quatrarius  ·  5 days ago  ·  link  ·  

and i don't remember where you mentioned it but vegan meat substitutes are actually popping off, i had some "sausages" that were shockingly good in both flavor and texture and i've kinda been craving them over the regular meat - i'm fine with eating the soy byproduct instead of the cow it would have gone to, it's actually praxis to cut out the middleman tbh smh btw

kleinbl00  ·  4 days ago  ·  link  ·  

'twas chat.

I think the sooner Americans realize that falafel is a better than eating a burger in effigy the happier we'll all be. There's plenty of delicious meaty things you can do with non-meat but in order to get it to where normies can access it easily we have to have Impossible Burgers.

ButterflyEffect  ·  5 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Sometimes I wonder a couple of things like, does J-Kenji Lopez Alt write this from an absurdist or satirical undertone? Or does he actually, truthfully, believe everything he writes?

The second is, who is the audience that reads this and goes YES, this is what I must be doing with my burgers?

kleinbl00  ·  4 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Putting dozens of intense pretenders on cable and watching them freak out about cooking has had the effect of making everyday Americans freak out about cooking. It's the same problem we've always had with wine - there's so many varieties that people vapor lock and end up buying the shit with Snoop Dogg on the bottle. Everyone who wants to cook but can't is so fucking flummoxed by 30 years of Food Network that they think it's hard and they're all terrified of making mistakes. So "top ten mistakes you are making when you're just mashing fucking ground beef into a ball and grilling it" gets pageviews.

It's fucking sad. Food and cookware people are pretty much at "you're going to have to work hard to fuck this up" but food culture is at "you're going to fuck this up unless you work hard." A baker that knows what she's doing will go "today is a bad day for pie crust." A baker that doesn't know what she's doing will read Serious Eats, follow everything semi-studiously and then beat herself up because apparently humidity is a myth. After all, if you refrigerate refrigerate refrigerate, Kenji insists your shitty pie crust is your fault.

It's written this way because when we don't feel competent, we love do's and don'ts and because if you feel competent, you stop reading this shit. Cookbooks didn't used to have amounts or temperatures in them. Now? Now we have Alton Fucking Brown telling you that you goddamn better weigh your water if you want an accurate measurement.

psychoticmilkman  ·  5 days ago  ·  link  ·  

So "Serious Eats" is just food tips taken way too seriously?

Agree with Worcestershire and onions, I also put breadcrumbs and an egg in my patties.

And, I'm trying to be nicer to people who like American Cheese, but they spent so much energy trying to convince you they're elevating their burger just to slap a Kraft Single on it. : /

kleinbl00  ·  5 days ago  ·  link  ·  

"taken way too seriously" is the subtitle of cuisine from 1992 until now.

American cheese is literally reconstituted cheese extract. If they sold it as "deconstructed colby" the steak-in-a-bag crew would be all over it. As it is, I have no problems with vanilla extract, I have no problems with condensed broth, I have no problems with cheese extract, it's just generally there are better options.

The way to cure velveetaism is to put out cheese. Swiss, cheddar, provolone. Most people have no idea about wine so they'll drink whatever you tell them is good. Used to be people knew things about cheese, now you can't buy Edam unless you want it cracker-sized.

psychoticmilkman  ·  5 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Was a cheesemonger for a short time. One of my favorite things to do was to suggest and give out samples of Gruyère, but make the customer try to pronounce it first.

Most people don't know it, but they probably need a little more Gruyère in their life.

This is a PSA now: everyone should put Gruyère on their burger, or Comté, or a smokey blue.

You get a small pass if you're buying American cheese to put in a homemade mac-and-cheese, but you should put some aged cheddar in there as well.

kleinbl00  ·  4 days ago  ·  link  ·  

My dating game in the '90s was to hit up the wine department and say "recommend something I should be paying way more than $15 for but won't have to" and then go to the cheese department and say "recommend three things that go with this." Head to blockbuster, take the whole mess to her house, have a couch picnic, get laid.

You are absolutely correct. Everyone needs more gruyere in their life. Around here we wolf Iberico because it's delicious on asian pear. Yet Kroger has absolutely no idea how to prepare sliced Havarti and if Boar's Head doesn't sell it, it's simply not available.

I actually have a less puritan take on American cheese than just about anyone around me. The wife won't tolerate it. My daughter was asking for brie by name at three or younger. Me? I find waaaaaaaay too many ways snobbery has been weaponized so I let it go and mourn what's been lost.

psychoticmilkman  ·  4 days ago  ·  link  ·  

I never cared for American cheese when I was younger, but I dealt with it. Became a bit more vocal about the dislike once I realized just about everyone I knew had a nostalgia hard-on for Kraft Singles.

But then I started cutting, selling and sampling cheese for real.

I lucked out and worked in a department that had absurd amounts of money to spend on expensive cheeses. My manager (whom I loved) was the biggest coffee, cheese and wine snob I've ever met. We got a long great.

I'm not going to tell someone to their face that they suck for liking American cheese, but I will always suggest something else now. And I will counter if anyone tries to suggest Kraft Singles are the best choice for anything.

Here are some things I feel like sharing about when I cut meat and cheese that, for some reason, I am still weirdly passionate about, and feel the need to keep talking about:

Customers who ask for pairing suggestions and are open about trying new things are obviously the best and are likely to get more chill and specific help and likely more samples than most.

Our location had a regular customer who came in weekly to buy between 1-2 pounds of ultra thin sliced Iberico to feed to his puppy as snacks. He was definitely that asshole who was always flashing his money.

Kraft : USA : : Président : France (But also: Président > Kraft)

Pair your cheeses with fruit more often, most fruit has some cheeses that it can go well with. The fruits that pair with the most variety of cheese are probably: Apples, pears, grapes and figs.

Don't freeze your cheese. Just don't. Please... for me? even an aged low moisture cheese can form ice crystals in the freezer and ruin the taste and consistency. If you tell a cheesemonger you're going to go home and put the fresh mozzarella they just made into a freezer, you are responsible for the stroke they have.

If you go to a deli counter and ask for fresh thinly sliced American cheese in any amount over half a pound, you deserve the reserved spot the devil has waiting for you in Hell. That shit gums up the slicers so fast it's the most frustrating thing to cut, and if you want them thin, they will not be consistent.

White American cheese tastes the same as yellow and is sometimes cheaper, but no one cares because they need that dye in their life for some reason.

Boar's Head is not the best quality meat you can get...BUT it's popular because they are consistent with their products and have built up an impressive collaborative training and distribution service with grocery stores. Store management are their customers not you, and they treat them well to make as many exclusive deals as possible.

Gruyère is amazing, if you want to step it up even more, find some Kaltbach Gruyère, easily in the top 5 of my all-time favorites.

If you ask a cheesemonger, who is surrounded by expensive foreign cheeses, where the vegan cheese is, where the Velveeta is, where the string cheese is... they will hopefully tell you politely... but It's probably not at the artisan cheese stand and they're gonna roll their eyes at you when your back is turned.

If you're looking for high end chocolate, IMO South America does it best. Dark chocolate pairs better with hard cheeses, milk chocolate for soft.

Considering I don't like almonds, Marcona Almonds are worth the price because they are crazy delicious and pair well with a lot of cheeses.

That was a bit of a rant. But I guess I feel better now. Seems I'm a bit opinionated when it comes to cheese.

kleinbl00  ·  4 days ago  ·  link  ·  

...I'm reeling from the idea of a puppy eating a pound of iberico a week. Poor thing must have shit marbles.

I would not change a word of your rant. Gimme the DL on cheese paper, though. There was an awesome hoighty toighty cheesemonger I went to once that insisted you had to wrap all cheese in cheese paper. "All cheese?" I asked, and he hedged a little with "All the cheese you're buying."

psychoticmilkman  ·  4 days ago  ·  link  ·  

I'm not 100% sure but I hope the guy was exaggerating about the amount of ham that dog was eating. He was the definition of the word "chode", whatever you're picturing in your mind is correct. He had to be asked to not bring said puppy into the grocery store multiple times. That puppy was definitely being used to try and pick up women.

Hoighty Toighty Cheesemonger is correct. It's super traditional to wrap cheese in paper! If it was a small shop, it makes sense he wrapped in only paper. If he was the owner or had worked with cheese for a long time, he was probably a Certified Cheese Professional, gotta know a lot about cheese, but also, it's super snobby history : )

Everything I was taught about cheese; I was basically taught twice. Here we are in America in a grocery store where we can't have nice things (raw cheese) and we do things here this way because...blah blah blah, but the proper way it's done everywhere else is this way because France and or Germany are bigger cheese snobs than us. Basically, all the "best" cheese info comes from France and all the "best" tools and accessories come from Germany.

Cheese sweats, 'cause moisture (don't freeze your cheese!!). So wrapped in paper keeps a good enough barrier for most odors and your wanted blue molds to stay in, but let's some airflow exist so the moisture doesn't build up in one place and make the cheese go bad. It is also traditional to not cut the cheese until ordered. Most paper wrapped cheeses were cut and wrapped immediately after the customer ordered.

That being said. I've personally never wrapped cheese in paper. From what I understand it's going to take a couple weeks still for most cheese to start having ill effects from being wrapped in plastic. But in the short term, a plastic wrapped wedge will stay fresher than paper wrapped for a few days.

If someone was buying a large amount, I would advise them to take it all out of the plastic within a week, then wrap individually with wax paper and store in a closed container in the fridge (some air to allow the cheese to breathe, but not just open in the fridge where other weird odors can affect the cheese). storing a blue cheese next to a non-blue is also fine for short periods but if it's wrapped only in paper and next to a non-blue your blue mold can spread...not necessarily a bad thing...but not a good thing.

If I opened my own snobby cheese store. I would cut to order and wrap in paper. With the grocery store setup and us wanting to have a huge variety available, plastic was the way to go.

There is also a standard way to wrap different cuts of cheese. 99% of the cuts I wrapped were wedge shaped. If someone is doing it well, you can tell if it was wrapped right-handed or left-handed. I'm right-handed but I actually wrap left-handed style because my manager was left-handed, and before he could figure out the reverse to teach me, I was just copying him.

kleinbl00  ·  3 days ago  ·  link  ·  

LOL the iberico you're talking about

The iberico I'm talking about

That puppy fared better than I hoped.

I sincerely appreciate the disquisition on cheese paper. Cheese rarely lasts more than a week around here so I feel better now.

psychoticmilkman  ·  3 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Haha! I love it. I was only a cheesenonger for like 8 months, so I'm still discovering new cheese. Now I need to track some down.

Looks like it might be pretty comparable to Manchego. Which is one of my favorites.

kleinbl00  ·  3 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Trader Joe's usually has Iberico cheese. Of course, they usually have two kinds of Havarti and for the past two months have had neither.

b_b  ·  3 days ago  ·  link  ·  

I’ll unabashedly admit to liking American cheese, but it’s not my favorite Mac-and-cheese cheese. That honor belongs to fontina. Fontina melts like cheddar, but has some funk to it—really lets you know you’re eating cheese in your Mac and not processed cheese product.

psychoticmilkman  ·  3 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Fontana is a beautiful choice and always a good recommendation for melty things. Tuscan herb crusted Fontina will up your grilled cheese sandwich game also.