Beef and Bacon Burger

A side view of burger and fried in the sunlight on a wood board

A burger revelation.

By Erin Henderson

Burger confession time.

I used to have an uncontrollable compulsion for playing with my meat. I just could not resist stuffing more stuff into the mix. Eggs and breadcrumbs, naturally, onions and spices, sauces and seasonings, like Pandora’s box, all manner of sins went into my burger mix.

And then, with a little help from friends people I don’t know on the internet, I wizened up.

Going on a bit of a burger bender, I researched how really good burgers are made. And most leading logic suggested just beef. Adding all the other bits and pieces pushed a burger into meatloaf sandwich or meatball sub territory. Neither are bad things, but if it’s a burger you want, additions of garlic flakes or Worcestershire are not the way to get there.

You may also like: Really Good Meatballs

And if you really want to nerd out, you must worship at the altar of Kenji. Doing God’s work, the Serious Eats writer did a deep dive into the effects of salting meat before or after. Somewhat counterintuitively, it’s far better to salt your patties after they’ve been formed for superior texture and taste. If Kenji commands it, Erin does it.

Now, let’s get into the bacon side of things.

I had a thought whilst eating a bacon burger a few years ago; as I bit in, the bacon pushed out the back of the bun, ever eluding my mouth. A sure sign of survivalism. So I began to wonder why wouldn’t I just grind the bacon and mix it with the beef? (This also works for turkey burgers, FYI. Less successful with vegetarian burgers.)

And so I did. And the results are fantastic. Slightly smoky, richly textured, subtly bacon-y... I'm never going back.

A few guidelines you want to follow for maximizing your success:

Beef and Bacon Burgers

Buy your bacon in a slab from a good butcher. And for that matter buy your beef from a good butcher, too. The high fat ratio of bacon does work well going through a meat grinder (at least not mine, which is a Kitchen Aid attachment), so I partially freeze it and run it through a food processor, dicing by hand any larger bits. It’s tempting to go extra on the bacon, but a little goes a long way for both flavour and fat content so resist the dark side.

Makes: 8, 4oz patties
Chef level: Easy
Special Equipment: digital scale, patty press (optional)

Ingredients: 
  • 1 ½ lb medium ground beef
  • 5oz bacon, slab, not sliced
  • Salt and pepper
  • Neutral oil, such as avocado or canola (olive oil smokes to easily)
How to Make It:
  1. Place your bacon in the freezer for 30 minutes to firm up. When ready, blitz it in a food processor to finely chop. You may need to give an extra chopping by hand to get it to the right size.
  2. In a large bowl, gently mix the ground beef with the ground bacon. Shape into balls, weigh on a scale for accuracy, and press in a burger press. (Or just wing it, and shape by hand.)
  3. Place on a parchment lined baking tray and keep refrigerated until ready to use, lightly covered in plastic wrap (or in a freezer if using another day. After freezing move the patties to a sealed container.)
  4. Heat a grill or stove top to about medium/med-high, and place a cast iron pan on the heat source. Spread neutral oil along the bottom to prevent sticking. When the pan is ready, season the patties with salt and pepper and place in the hot pan.
  5. Cook until a thermometer inserted into the centre of the patty reads 130°F for med-rare, 150°F for med-well, and 160°F for a dried out and grey burger.
Wine Pairing:

This is tricky because so much depends on the toppings of the burger. Are you going tangy with yellow mustard and ketchup? Or sweetly smoky and rich with sautéed mushroom and carammelized onions? 

Always pair to the strongest flavours of the dish which will typically be the garnish. 

But, for the burger patty itself, which is smoky and salty from the bacon, and rich from the fat, I would pair a peppery Syrah from France's Rhône Valley. The wine has notes of dark berry, bacon fat, and peppercorn which echo the flavours of the meat, and grippy tannins to work with all the fat and protein. 

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