“The best burgers can be basic,” says master butcher Joe Figliomeni, who’s helmed Pusateri’s Fine Foods’ meat department for almost 25 years. “Just a great cut of meat, high quality salt, pepper, onion, garlic, and eggs and breadcrumbs to bind.” With cookout season upon us, we turned to Figliomeni for a primer on how to create burger paradise at home. Here, he breaks down the necessary components, plus some excellent add-ons courtesy of Canadian producers.
The Patty: “Ground 28–30 day dry-aged short rib is great, as its high marble content caramelizes well, but mix it up and be open to trying other cuts your butcher has on hand such as sirloin, brisket, chuck, or Japanese Wagyu,” says Figliomeni. Want to get extra fancy? “Try introducing butter into your burger game: Stuff your patty with truffle or herb butter for an incredible treat.”
The Bun: “Boulart’s [from Quebec, pictured above] small artisan burger buns are the best of both worlds. They provide the wonderful texture of artisan bread with a moist crumb and crunchy crust that crisps up perfectly on the grill. Fred’s Breads in Toronto also makes a mean bun; their rosemary sesame seed brioche grill bun is made with real butter and eggs, resulting in a caramelized and glossy crust.
The Toppings: “When I am creating a ‘fast food burger’, my go to toppings are juicy heirloom tomatoes, fresh cucumber, and Maille Dijon and aioli,” says Figliomeni. “But seared foie gras, sautéed onions, and porcini mushrooms are a great mix for topping a burger, too. Mushrooms are always an appreciated addition to a burger; try morels, lobster, chanterelle, or portobello mushrooms for some earthy flavour. For a cheeseburger that is out of this world I use Canadian cheddar, double smoked thick sliced bacon, and sautéed onions. The contrast of juicy patty, smoke, and sweet onions is heaven on earth.”
The Condiments: “A selection of thoughtfully prepared condiments can help elevate your burger. I love Nanny Hudson’s Ketchup [from Lyn, Ontario] because it’s made with all-natural ingredients. When you’re talking Dijon, you’re talking Maille. Their iconic Dijon Orginale is a classic blend of French mustard and made with finely crushed Brassica juncea seeds, an ideal accompaniment to red meat. Stonewall Kitchen’s BBQ Sauce is the top selling BBQ sauce at Pusateri’s. It’s thick and succulent, and a delicious kick of sweet and smoky. Pusateri’s House Made Hot Honey Mustard is a summer essential. For the finishing touch, dust with Himalayan, Maldon, or any other premium salt.”