A while back I made dry-aged burgers using the obvious: dry-aged beef. I concluded a few things from this experiment:
1) it is expensive
2) there isn't as much dry-aged flavor in dry-aged beef as you'd think
The second point was something that I had been thinking about, as it related to the steaks you get at Peter Luger. I'm of the opinion that much of that dry-aged, funky flavor is from that butter/tallow mixture that they use. I have to think they are using scraps of dry-aged beef and fat, the really tasty stuff, along with butter, to make a very potent sauce, which they then cook your steak in and serve your steak with. An earlier experiment to supported this theory yielded good results.
But that excellent steak didn't solve my dry-aged burger challenge. However, it certainly lead to some ideas.
The first approach, which I've been using for a while, is to ask my butcher, Sal, at Westwood Prime Meat in Westwood, NJ, to put some of the dry-aged "odds and ends" into his already excellent ground beef. Surely this is what they do at Peter Luger. This has lead to some fantastic and work-free dry-aged burgers at the t:e headquarters.
A recent burger went and looked like this:
- An 8 ounce patty, formed in a ring mold.
- Cooked over med-high heat in a cast iron pan, with clarified butter. Put a little of that clarified butter on the burgers as you go. Go head. They'll like it.
- Look at that crust.
- Let the burgers rest.
- Serve the burgers.
- Eat the burgers.
There was great beefy flavor, and a healthy dose of that dry-aged funkiness that we're looking for.
The nice folks at Serious Eats had a similar idea a few weeks ago, but for some reason concluded that it's near impossible to get dry-aged beef scraps for your ground beef at home, short of dry-aging your own short loin. I've had no problem procuring this stuff from Westwood Prime Meats, and also from Tarry Market in Port Chester. These are the two places that I've asked, so I'm 2 for 2. I suspect there are plenty of butchers around major metropolitan areas that will do the same. Serious Eats and t:e do agree on the ketchup, pickles, American cheese, and onions. If it's tomato season and heirlooms are available, I'll skip the ketchup.
My next experiment will include a hybrid approach to dry-aged burgers: I'm going to render some dry-aged fat/scraps into clarified butter, as I do with steak, and use that butter to cook the burgers. Hell, the patties will then be bathing in the dry-aged flavors, surely leading to a superior dry-agey product. I may even put some of that butter/tallow right in the middle of the patty.
Burger stuffed with cheese? I don't think so. Burger stuffed with dry-aged butter/tallow stuff? You betcha.