Make the perfect burger

The Brooklyn Paper
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There’s something about summer that triggers the primal need to put meat on a bun — and the good news is that Brooklyn is in the midst of its biggest burger renaissance since the invention of the George Foreman grill.

The wider availability of grass-fed, organic beef has brought some vegetarians back over from the Bark Side, but the main reason for that everyone is jumping on the patty wagon is taste.

“The fact is, burgers are America’s favorite food,” said Lee Schrager, founder and director of the New York Wine and Food Festival, whose annual “Burger Bash” in DUMBO is one of the week-long fest’s most-popular events. “I never met a burger I didn’t like.”

Top chefs in town get their ground beef from the venerable Patty’s Meat Market on Seventh Avenue in Dyker Heights — and many choose an 80-percent meat/20-percent fat mix.

If it all starts with the meat, there’s no better place to start than with Eddie Dmytrow, owner of Patty’s (and, conveniently, his last name is pronounced “d’MEAT-ro”).

“We have the best meat, I won’t lie to you,” he said. “It’s a mix of three parts chuck, two parts top round and one pound of sirloin. It comes out beautiful.”

And it pays to listen to Dmytrow and the experts when it comes to your burger this summer. Here’s a handy clip-and-save guide:

1. Leaner is not better. Twenty percent is a lot of fat in a piece of fish, but not in a burger.

“You can get something fattier, but it’ll shrink to nothing,” said Dmytrow. “And how are you going to have friends that way?”

Experts (and we are not only talking about ourselves here — we made calls on this!) agree with Dmytrow that lean meat has no business being made into hamburger patties.

“A burger has to be juicy and fatty — it’s what you crave,” said Claire Stewart, a lecturer of culinary arts at City Tech in Downtown Brooklyn, which has a surprisingly good restaurant program.

2. Know your butcher. Dmytrow is one of a dying breed of butchers who actually grinds his own cuts.

“You really do get what you pay for,” he said. “Cheap meat has all kinds of other stuff in there. It comes from out west, but I don’t know when it was ground up.”

3. Don’t add anything to the burger patty.

“Why would you ruin the meat I sell you with something cheap?” Dmytrow said. “You don’t need to add any fillers at all — no breadcrumbs, no eggs, no sauces. Nothing.”

4. Get a nice char. “You have to sear the outside first,” Dmytrow said. “Put it over the highest flame first for a few minutes on each side and then move it a cooler part. That’s the only way to keep the juices in. When you bite into it, you want to get messy.”

5. Avoid overcooking. How do you do that?

“It’s simple,” Dmytrow advised. “Don’t drink too many beers — and stay near the grill!”

Easier said than done.

Patty’s Meat Market [7917 Seventh Ave., near Ft. Hamilton Parkway in Dyker Heights, (718) 836-4400].

Updated 7:35 am, May 31, 2010
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