8 Neat Tips for Making the Perfect Burger and Fries at Home

We have a couple of friends who are always inviting us to splendid dinner parties at their place – amazing wines, complicated cuisine (think sous vide, foams, emulsions etc.), and so on. Naturally, we wanted to return the hospitality, but as you can imagine it was a bit daunting! So we decided that if we weren’t going to go all Heston in the kitchen, we would go back to basics – burgers and fries. Who doesn’t love a good burger? And if we were going to go down this road, then PB and I were going to make the best bloody burger that we could possibly make at home (without a barbecue)!

We set about doing research on meat cuts, fat to lean meat ratios, the American burger vs. the Aussie burger and all that jazz, plus we consulted our Belgian friend PYB on his tips for the perfect fries. After a couple of trials, we believe that we’ve pretty much got it down. All of these tips are compiled from several foodie websites, online recipes and youtube videos – to save you readers the trouble, here the all the best tips for you in one easy list!

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It’s not the best photo, but I will post another once I make my next burger ūüôā

Tips for the perfect burger at home:

1. Different people advocate different cuts of beef for the perfect burger, but they generally advocate beef chuck, and that it should be 80% lean and 20% fat. I use Australian grass-fed rib eye, which is the next cut along from chuck, and yields a great taste result.

2. Do not buy pre-minced meat! First of all, you don’t know what’s in it, and secondly, once meat has been minced it has more surface area to attract more bacteria. 180g of beef mince per person will do – ask the butcher to grind it in front of you on the day that you make your burgers. We buy rib eye steaks from Pacific Gourmet and they will grind it for you.

3. When shaping the patties, try to handle the meat as little as possible. Shape it loosely and don’t pack it too much, as this results in stodgy patties.

4. Meat usually should be cooked at room temperature, but burger patties should be as cold as possible. After shaping them, put them back in the fridge to cool again completely. This ensures that the fat melts evenly when they are cooking.

5. Before cooking your patties, use your thumb to create an indent in the centre of the patty – this will stop the patty from shrinking into a ball, and keep it flat when cooking.

7. Only season your patties right before cooking. Seasoning too early with salt will draw all the moisture out.

6. Use a brush or pour some oil on a wad of kitchen towel to oil the frying pan so it is evenly covered. When the patties are cooking, resist the temptation to keep flipping them and pushing down on them. Cook on one side for 3 minutes and then flip for a further 3 minutes, for medium rare. Rest the patties (covered loosely in foil on a plate) for a few minutes before serving so all the juices don’t go into the bun and make it soggy.

7. If you are making cheeseburgers, once you have flipped the patties once, add the cheese and cover the pan so that the cheese is melted when served. We used a French cheese (Cantal, but Compte or Tomme de Savoie would be fabulous too I reckon).

8.¬†Whilst cooking the burgers, heat another pan (preferably a griddle pan to create some nice char lines) and toast your buttered burger buns – there’s nothing worse than soft buns!

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4 loosely shaped patties, 100% Australian rib eye

Tips for the perfect fries at home:

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Les Templiers B&B in Charroux – One of France’s Most Beautiful Villages

Summer is well and truly here, and I find myself reminiscing about our last summer in the beautiful French countryside. PB and I together with my family hired a car and drove down from Paris towards Cantal in Auvergne. ¬†This area is well known for some of France’s best cheeses and meat (beef and lamb). It’s one of the least populated departments in France and can get extremely cold in the winter. But in the summer, it is¬†the perfect time¬†to visit Puy de Dome, the town of¬†Laguiole (where those lovely Laguiole knives are produced), and eat at the fabulous Serge Vieira. If it’s your kind of thing, you can also go to Chaudes Aigues , famous for it’s hot spring waters and also the annual Tattoo Festival! Random, but true.

We wanted to break up the 5 hour drive between Paris and Chaudes Aigues, and thought a visit to Vichy might be nice. ¬†Serendipitously, the nicer hotels in Vichy were booked, so we decided on a small B&B in the nearby Charroux. Classified as one of the most beautiful villages in France, Charroux is a former fortified village famous for it’s mustard. ¬†Sometimes you come across the best places by accident, and Les Templiers in Charroux is one of those places.

Charroux

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A magical place, with it’s very own wishing well

Opened in 2012, this 19th century building has been lovingly restored and converted into a tasteful and modern “chambre d’h√ītes”, ¬†keeping all of the original wooden floors, stairs, roof beams and stone walls.¬†With beautifully manicured gardens in the back,¬†cr√™perie¬†restaurant to the side, and the charming little village of Charroux surrounding it, Les Templiers was the perfect place to stop for one night.

Unfortunately we had to leave after breakfast and didn’t have a chance to have a good amble around the village. From the 12th to 14th century, Charroux was¬†fortified by the lords of Bourbon and once protected by a double rampart. Now, only the east and west gates together with 60 meters of the inner wall remains. It’s a fascinating place to walk around and at certain places find pictureque lookouts over the surrounding countryside.

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The courtyard garden of Les Templiers

Templiers design

Original features of a beautifully restored building

The Combles Room

The Combles Room

We stayed in the Combles Room in the attic, featuring original comble roof beams, a stand alone tub, bathrobes and interesting light fixtures. In fact, the whole property was accented with eye-catching lighting. It is these small details which really make a place stand out, it’s obvious that the owners paid attention to every element of the decor, and I must say they have very good taste.

Breakfast on the following morning was a real treat! Father and son team R√©mi and Aur√©lien are wonderful hosts and are passionate about doing what they do. Aur√©lien makes his own yoghurt as well as bakes his own delicious almond cake. The jams were supplied by his friend in a neighboring village, and the cheese was the freshest Saint Nectaire I have ever tasted. We had fleeting thoughts about buying a yoghurt maker, but leaving it to sit on the kitchen counter over night is just not a good idea in Hong Kong – maybe in the winter …

A thoroughly homemade breakfast

A thoroughly homemade breakfast

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