Burgers are awesome and American and, sadly, one of the more risky things to eat at any temperature under “well-done”. Germs that contaminate beef tend to reside on the outside of the meat, so steak that gets seared on both sides but is medium-rare in the middle is significantly less risky to eat than ground beef, which allows all the germs to get mixed into the center.
But you like bloody burgers! I get it. A burger is so much more a burger when it’s juicy and sloppy and red in the middle, but I have to admit it freaks me out a little. So I harness the power of sous vide to pasteurize my burger patties while keeping them a perfect, drippy, obscene medium rare. Pretty cool huh?
sous vide machine
zip top quart sized freezer bags
outdoor grill or indoor grill pan
ground beef, around 1/3 pound per person
salt and pepper
American cheese, sliced (from the deli, not the wrapped “singles”, 1-2 slices per person)
tomato (1-2 slices per person)
red onion, thinly sliced (a few rings per person)
lettuce (one or two leaves per person)
pickle spears to serve on the side or coins to put on top
burger buns, one per person
1. Get the sous-vide machine clamped to the side of a large pot or other heatproof vessel. Fill the pot with water and set the temperature to 131F-137F for a “medium” burger. I set mine to 131 for the burger pictured. Crazy how red it looks, right? That’s because ground beef gets more oxygen than whole cuts of meat, so it will always be redder. No need to freak out. 131F is really the lowest temperature you can use if you are trying to pasteurize a patty this thick. Any lower and the length of time required for the center of the patty to be sufficiently heated through would put us in the “danger zone” for food safety times. As long as you are above 131F you can let those fatty patties sit in their water bath for as much as 4 hours without losing quality.
2. While your sous vide bath preheats, get your beef divvied up into nice, thick patties (up to about three centimeters or one inch) that are just a smidgen larger than the buns you plan to use. It’s not worth using the sous-vide process if your burgers are much thinner than 3/4 inch, so keep that in mind. Salt and pepper the outsides and gently lay them in your freezer bags.
3. Seal the bags up most of the way, leaving a tiny corner open on one side. Remove the air from the bag by lowering it into the hot water bath and allowing air to escape from the open corner. When as much of the air as possible has been removed, seal up the last corner.
4. Arrange your bags in your water bath and clip the sides of the bag to the pot if necessary to keep them bumping around too much. Cook for 3-4 hours to pasteurize fully.
5. When the patties are done, let them rest for ten minutes while you preheat your grill (or indoor grill pan) over medium-high heat.
6. Cook your patties until well-marked on one side (maybe 60-90 seconds), flip once, top with cheese, and cook until marked on the other side. Remove to a plate and get ready to assemble.
7. Toast burger buns if you like and layer on lettuce, cooked burger patties with melted cheese, onion, tomato, ketchup, and mayo. Add pickles if you like. Eat.