Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Barbecue guru Paul Kirk's burger recipe simple, meaty and pretty good

By J.M. Hirsch (CP) – 6 hours ago

Simple and meaty. Pretty obvious and pretty good.

It's the essence of a great burger, according to Paul Kirk, a man who clearly knows his meat. He's one of the world's most accomplished barbecue gurus — with some 450 awards, including seven World Barbecue Championships — as well as executive chef at New York's R.U.B. BBQ restaurant.

"This may sound too obvious, but what makes a burger great is the meat. You can add different things to your patties or top them with whatever you'd like, but if you don't start with the right foundation, the whole building will crumble, right?" he said in an interview by email.

Kirk says he's all for experimenting with blends of different cuts of meat, but says the most important part for the home cook to focus on is the ratio of fat.

"Keep it somewhere in the 80/20 range and you'll end up with a flavourful, juicy burger," he said. "After that, I like to keep things pretty simple. Some hearty white buns and maybe some onion, but I don't top 'em with too much. I like to let the meat shine."

And so we asked Kirk to bring his barbecue expertise to AP's 20 Burgers of Summer series.

"The creation of my BBQ burger was a no-brainer. We had some chopped brisket available, as we tend to have at the restaurant, and thought about mixing a little of it in with our burger patty," he said. "It took two or three tests before we got the right balance so that you could taste the smokiness of the meat through the burger."

To up the barbecue flavour even more, Kirk added some of his dry barbecue rub to the burgers just before tossing them on the grill. He suggests using whatever variety rub you like.

BBQ Burger
Start to finish: 30 minutes

750 g (1 1/2 lb) lean ground chuck
250 g (8 oz) smoked or barbecued beef (such as brisket, short rib or tri-tip), finely chopped
50 ml (1/4 cup) purchased barbecue dry rub
1 vidalia onion, sliced into 5-mm (1/4-inch) rings
50 ml (1/4 cup) vegetable oil
4 slices smoked cheddar cheese
4 white hamburger buns
30 ml (2 tbsp) butter, softened

In a large bowl, mix ground chuck with chopped beef until well combined. Form mixture into four 250-g (8-oz) patties. Season both sides of each patty with barbecue rub, reserving just a bit of the rub.

In a small bowl, toss onion rings with vegetable oil and some of the remaining barbecue rub.

Heat a grill to medium and lightly oil the grate.

Spread butter on the inside of each bun.

Cook burgers until nearly done, flipping once, about 6 minutes per side for medium-rare, or to desired doneness.

Meanwhile, add onions to the grill and cook until slightly charred and soft.

Just before the burgers are done, top each with onions and a slice of the cheese. Cook for another minute or so.

Toast buns lightly over the grill and assemble the burgers.

Makes 4 servings.

Nutrition information per serving (values are rounded to the nearest whole number): 711 calories; 377 calories from fat; 43 g fat (16 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 170 mg cholesterol; 27 g carbohydrate; 57 g protein; 2 g fibre; 525 mg sodium.

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