Have you ever wondered how some restaurants are able to make thick burgers (more than 1 inch) that are medium or medium rare all the way through the entire burger? When you try the same at home your burger ends up being too rare in the middle and overcooked in the outer layers. Well the reason is that the juicy burger made at the restaurant is not prepared the same way as you might think it is. They cook the burgers in a water bath!!
The cooking method is called Sous-Vide (French for under pressure) and makes use of a SousVide Water Oven. The oven keeps the water at a very precise temperature and all you have to do is drop whatever you want to cook into the water oven and leave it for a few hours. There are a few steps that need to be taken before you can start cooking Sous Vide.
First, you must own a water oven. See notes at the end how to get one.
Second, you must use a vacuum sealer to seal the meat in plastic because we don’t want to allow the water to get in contact with our food. Before the food is sealed you can season the meat as you like.
Third, you have to determine the correct temperature for the water oven.
So now I am sure you think I am mad, but allow me to explain how this oven can cook you some nice burgers using this method. We all know that the internal temperature of the burger decides how the burger is cooked. A temperature of 120F will make the burger rare, 130F medium rare, 140F, medium etc. When you sear a burger on a hot pan or grill the temperature is maybe 450F and as we cook the burger, the internal temperature of the burger will rise, until it has reached the desired doneness. But the outer layers of the burger will be cooked to well done or even burnt because of the pan/grill searing. So the burger is not consistently cooked to your liking.
The beauty of Sous Vide cooking, is that you set the temperature to whatever you like your burger to be internally. So if you like your medium rare you set the oven to 130F and drop the vacuum sealed burgers into the water bath. What makes this even easier, is that you don’t ever have to worry that we overcook the burger because it will never cook it to more than 130F, thus the burger is medium rare for 1, 2 even 4 hours. Of course you don’t want to keep it in the oven for too long because of health reasons (bacteria like warm burgers), but it really doesn’t matter if you cook it for 1 hour or 3 hours. They will still be medium rare.
Sous Vide cooking is perfect for Kobe Beef Burgers if you want to spend a few dollars more for your meat.
After the burgers are cooked in the oven it is now time to take the out of the water bath, cut the plastic bag open and gently pad the patties dry. Now heat up a iron cast pan with oil or grill and sear the burgers at very high heat for 45 seconds on each side. That will seal in the juices and make this burger nice and brown on the out side and medium rare (or how ever you like it) throughout the entire burger.
Please note that the burgers looks uncooked when they come out of the bag. That’s perfectly fine. They are actually cooked, but they just need a good sear on a pan or on a grill.
Chart of temperatures
Medium Rare: 134F/56C
Medium Well: 150F/65C
Here is my suggestion to juicy and delicious Sous Vide cooked burgers:
Makes 4 burgers
- Set water oven temperature to the temperature using the chart above. I prefer them medium rare at 126F.
- Form four 1/2 lbs patties loosely and make a dent in the middle.
- Seal burgers individually in plastic using Food Saver vacuum sealer. I seal the burgers just before all the air is sucked out so that the bag is not compressing the burgers too much..
- Place burgers in refrigerator until oven is ready.
- Drop the sealed bag(s) with burgers into the water bath and cook for at least 1 hour, no more than 4 hours. If you make them more than 1 inch thick, make sure to leave them in the bath 1 hour per inch.
- Take the bag(s) out of the water, cut open and gently pad the burgers dry with paper towels. Season with salt and pepper.
- Heat a cast iron skillet over high heat, add oil (or use hot grill). When the oil is shimmering, sear the burgers 45 seconds on each side. Don’t press on the burgers!
Assemble your burger to you liking and serve right away.
Note: You will need a SousVide Water Oven and the one I use cost around $450. With this oven you will be able to make a lot of other dishes with meat, fish and vegetables that are out of this world, but if you only want to make burgers on it I certainly understand.