Saturday, May 14, 2011

Burger Throwdown: Burger Seasonings

Walking down the aisle, I saw these two characters sitting next to each other on the shelf.   It was an impulse buy that I couldn't resist. 

I wanted to try them in an "all other things considered equal" situation so I decided it was time for a burger throwdown, mano a mano.  Or I guess more like burgero a burgero....

Side by side they don't look all that different.  Both have a good blend of textures and colors.  

Emeril's Grill Bam!burger seasoning was $.47 per ounce and Weber Gourmet Burger Seasoning was $.49 per ounce.

I took Mike Davis' (Team Lotta Bull, champion BBQ team) BBQ Boot Camp** last year and one of the tricks he taught was to taste rubs straight by themselves to check the balance, blend, and flavors they will bring.   I tried that with these seasonings and both had a lot going on.  Emeril's seemed a little saltier.  Weber's had more of a smokiness to it. 

To minimize the variables, I tried to make this as equal as possible, using the same beef grind and cooking them over the same fire.  I weighed out 3 separate pounds of 80/20 ground chuck.  To each I added 1 egg yolk as a binder and 3 Tablespoons of panko bread crumbs.

Following package directions, I added 2 teaspoons of the Weber to one batch and 2 Tablespoons of the Emeril's to another batch.   Yea, teaspoons vs Tablespoons, I checked the label 3 times because it sounded wrong.  In the third batch I used a simple burger seasoning of 1 tsp kosher salt, 1/2 tsp black pepper and 1/2 tsp garlic powder.

I carefully weighed the mixture into 5.3 ounce portions and pressed them out into 4" patties.  I'm not normally so exact with my burger weight but I wanted everything but the seasoning to be the same.  

I grilled them for 8 minutes, flipping every two minutes, over a 450f fire.

Finally, time for taste testing!  
What?  You didn't think I was going to eat 3 whole burgers, did you?

My preference was the burger made with the Weber seasoning.  I thought it had a spicy flavor but it didn't overpower the burger.  Alexis also liked the Weber burger best.  The two boys (22 y/o and 11 y/o) both chose the burger with basic seasoning as their favorites.  

Nobody liked the Emeril's burger.   My youngest asked if I made that burger out of sausage and my older son said that it tasted like a turkey burger trying to be a real burger.  The seasoning just dominated the flavor of the burger, it wasn't enjoyable at all.  I don't think the seasoning is "bad", I think the instructions calling for 2 Tablespoons is just way too much.  I'll try it again but only use 2 teaspoons next time.

If you need a premade burger seasoning, I'd recommend the Weber.  Overall, I would stick with making your own burger seasoning.  Start with the basic seasoning and then add whatever signature flavors you like, maybe some worcestershire sauce or bbq sauce.  You get to experiment with flavors more that way and it's a lot cheaper than almost $.50 an ounce.

**Speaking of which, Mike Davis is teaching a class at Dead End BBQ next weekend (Sunday 5/22/11), you can still sign up.