I love all kinds of burgers whether they’re smashed thin on a griddle, steamed, grilled, fast food style, multi-layered, singly patty, or big hefty pub style burgers. There’s a burger for every mood and sometimes that mood calls for a comforting monster of a burger.
Making a delicious, tender, and juicy burger isn’t hard. In fact, it’s very easy once you keep in mind three key techniques. The first is to keep things simple, the second is not to over-work the meat, and the third is how to shape the patty.
Keeping it simple means that salt and pepper are the best seasonings for a good quality burger because they highlight the meat rather than overshadow it. A good burger doesn’t need any fillers to make it tender or funky spices to deliver on flavor. Just add some pepper in the mix and only salt the outside right before cooking in order to maintain a desirable texture. Letting the salt sit in the meat mixture for too long breaks down some of the proteins.
When mixing the beef and forming the patty the idea is not to over-work or pack the beef. It’s also important to resist the urge to press down while grilling (this is different than making a smash burger, which is pressed only at the beginning of the cooking process). Over-working the meat is most often the reason a burger might seem too dense, chewy, or not very tender. Even a well-done burger that is formed properly doesn’t need to be hard or dry.
Lastly, the way the burger is formed can make a difference in overall flavor. Making the patty a little larger than the bun will help the end result so that the burger fits the bun after cooking. Very often, people will make the patties the same size as the bun (or smaller) and after cooking the patty shrinks too much leaving a sad, comically small yet high patty. Burgers will also shrink towards the center while cooking, so if the middle of the burger is thick to start, it will become even thicker after cooking. Creating a shallow dip in the center of the patty on one side can help create a more evenly flat burger after cooking.
With all of that said, it’s time to make the best pub style burger you’ve ever made at home! I’ve included instructions for sauteed mushrooms and fast caramelized onions as well as a homemade aioli you’ll want to put on everything. If mushrooms and onions aren’t your thing, then switch it up with whatever toppings you like best.
Thick and Juicy Grilled Pub Style Burgers Recipe with a Homemade Aioli
- 1 pound 80/20 Ground Chuck (Note: If you can't find 80/20 ground chuck, just get 85/15 ground beef and add a tablespoon of vegetable oil. If you're feeling especially adventurous, try grinding your own chuck or mixture of chuck and short ribs or brisket for an extremely fresh burger.)
- 1/2 tsp Kosher salt
- 1/4 tsp coarse ground black pepper
- 2 large hamburger buns (Note: Look for oversized buns to handle the size of these patties. The usual grocery store buns will be a little small and you'll either end up with a burger that's too thick in order to fit or too large for the bun.)
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise (Note: A good quality mayonnaise made with canola or avocado oil is recommended.)
- 1/2 tsp worcestershire sauce
- 1/4 tsp fresh squeeze lemon juice
- 1/4 tsp finely crushed garlic
- 1 pinch coarse ground black pepper
- 1 large sweet onion
- 8 oz white or baby portobella mushrooms (Note: Make sure to clean the mushrooms well.)
- 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil or butter
- 2 to 4 Slices Swiss cheese (Note: Use any other cheese you like.)
Mushrooms and Onions
- The first thing to do is to prep and get the toppings ready. That way when the burger is ready, you can serve it hot. Start by peeling and slicing a large sweet onion in half. Cut the onion into thin curved julienne style pieces (i.e. long pieces).
- Place a pan on the stove and set it to medium heat. Add two tablespoons of olive oil (or butter) to the pan and when warm add the onions.
- Saute the onions over medium heat for roughly 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally until the onions are melty and golden, but not charred. If you want to make truly excellent caramelized onions, then set the heat to low and sautee the onions for almost an hour. When the onions are done, set them aside in a covered bowl until ready to use.
- Saute the sliced mushrooms over medium heat and with two tablespoons of olive oil or butter. You may need to saute the mushrooms in batches as the best way to cook them is so that they aren't overlapping or touching. Cook the mushrooms until they are browned and a little soft, but not charred. Set them aside in a covered bowl when done.
- Making the aioli is easy. Just combine a 1/2 cup of mayonnaise, 1/2 teaspoon of Worcestershire sauce, 1/4 teaspoon of fresh squeezed lemon juice, 1/4 teaspoon finely crushed garlic, and a pinch (~1/16 tsp) coarse black pepper in bowl and mix well. Place into a squeeze bottle or just cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
Pub Style Burger
- The key to the burger is keeping it simple and not over-working the beef. Start by breaking apart the meat using your fingers. Don't mash the meat, but rather work your fingers into it churning at the wrist to break it into small pieces.
- Add the 1/8 teaspoon of coarse ground black pepper to the meat. If the meat was leaner than 80/20, add a tablespoon of vegetable oil. Optionally, if the meat isn't very fresh, but still edible (maybe it's a little gray rather than nice and read, but smells fine) you can try adding a tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce to up the umami flavor. Mix the meat lightly to incorporate the ingredients, but don't overdo it. Please note that I've deliberately left the salt out until later!
- Split the meat into two equal portions and lightly form them into patties that are roughly inches across. Again, the key is not to pack the meat too tightly. You should be able to pick up the patties without them breaking apart, but they shouldn't be too dense. The next big tip is to make the patties about 1 inch larger than the hamburger buns you are using. The reason is that the meat will shrink while cooking. Making the patty larger means it will fit the bun properly after cooking. Lastly, when making the patties, form a shallow, circular indent in the center of the patties. The small, shallow indent helps keep the patty's shape after cooking because meat tends to contact into the center while cooking.
- Only when you are ready to grill, sprinkle roughly a half teaspoon (or as much as needed) of Kosher salt on the outside of the burger patties.
- Get the grill hot enough so that you can only hold your hand over the grill grates for a few seconds. With a propane grill, just set the dials to high and wait for the grill to get up to 550 or 600 degrees F with the lid closed. Place the patties using a spatula on the grill directly over the flame. With a charcoal grill, it may be harder to gauge the temperature, so don't cover the grill if it seems very hot. With a propane grill go ahead and close the lid if you have some kind of temperature gauge on it. Let the burgers grill for 4 minutes (with a closed lid for a propane grill), but never letting the grill temp get above 550 or 600 degrees F with the lid closed (i.e. open the lid to cool down or dial back the heat if needed). After four minutes, flip the patties and let them grill for up to 3 minutes for medium or 4 more minutes depending on how well done you like the patties.
- After flipping and when there is roughly 1.5 minutes left, add the Swiss (or whatever cheese you like) to the patties and close the lid again.
- Before the burgers are done and if you like a toasted bun, place the burger buns face down on the grill over indirect or medium heat for a minute or two until they are toasted to your preference. If you want to take them to the next level, melt a tablespoon of butter in a small bowl in microwave and brush a light layer of butter on each interior side of the bun before grilling. Set the buns aside when toasted so that they are ready for the burgers.
- After the cheese is nicely melted and the burgers have a nice color and crust on them, remove them from the grill and place directly onto the burger buns. Alternatively, you can serve the burger patty over a salad and use the aioli, mushrooms, and onions as toppings.
- When it's time to assemble the burgers, you can either place the mushrooms and caramelized onions on the bottom bun with the burger on top or on top of the burger and cheese. I suggest spreading the aioli on the burger bun half that is not touching the onions and mushrooms. This lets both sides of the burger have a unique flavor.
- After assembly, the burgers are ready to eat immediately. Enjoy one of the most tender and juicy restaurant or pub style burgers you can make at home.
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