The Rare Exception
Last year at this time I wrote a little post entitled How Do You Like Your Meat? And I shared a maxim that I follow: always order the burger one degree of doneness below the desired temperature.
After all, this is what I would do for my favorite hamburger at The Original Joe’s.
Well, a year has passed, and there were a couple of times over the last 52 weeks when I felt the need to diverge from this strategy. One was based on the influence of a reader, and the other had to do with a proprietary ordering system at a local burger joint.
Maybe I did it wrong. I didn’t touch the waiter’s elbow. Perhaps that was a more critical part of the method than I suspected. But my pink-all-the-way-through burger ordered medium-rare as recommended by the waiter, came out brown-all-the-way-through. And it was so sad.
This was a pretty fancy restaurant, so I thought I would give them the benefit of the doubt that they could cook meat to the desired temperature. Especially since the waiter had been brought in under the tent of my desires.
When I sent it back, I regretted diverging from my system.
In some cases, though, the system is of no help at all. This year I explored the burger stylings of Juicy Burger & More. And there one doesn’t order burgers by the standard measures. Rather, they ask you if you would like a red center, a pink center, (or presumably a brown center, although we never got that far).
My first visit to their Guilderland location, I asked for a burger medium rare, and the man behind the counter asked if I would like a red center or a pink center. The gears in my brain started spinning, and told me that medium-rare is pink all the way through with a warm red center. The pink center is the hallmark of a medium burger.
“Red center, please.”
Well, that answer produced a rare burger with a cool red center. I didn’t mind. It was a tasty burger. But it was hardly a juicy burger. I would call it a silky burger. At that temperature the fat in the meat didn’t melt sufficiently to create the restaurant’s signature meat juice.
Thinking I learned my lesson, on the next visit I asked for a pink center.
While the center was pink, there was also a lot of brown surrounding that pink center. In my mind that burger was more on the side of medium than medium rare. Still, I did get to experience for the first time the juiciness of their meat.
In this situation, it would seem they can accurately cook their burgers, but the ordering scheme appears to leave medium-rare out of the equation entirely. Perhaps I haven’t cracked the code yet, and the third time will be the charm.
Yes, I am triangulating my way to the best possible burger from this joint.
Although honestly, I’m better off just skipping it and heading off to New World Bistro Bar for their grass-fed burger. It’s only a few dollars more, and I wouldn’t get the side of guilt that comes with conventionally raised beef.