The perfect burger is a compilation of its individual parts, with each one working in harmony with the other. Therefore, in order to describe the perfect burger each component must be described individually, then properly assembled.
The Meat - This is obviously the first and the most important component of the perfect burger. It must be beef, there are no exceptions to this. If you are a vegatarian, a fish lover, or someone who thinks that turkey burgers are acceptable, you are wrong, plain and simple. If you only eat organic, local, or "farm raised" (I don't even know what that one means, I can't imagine where else cows are raised), however, you are still in luck. While you are rediculous, you can still have a good burger, as long as you are using ground chuck with the right amount of fat. The most important element of the meat is of course the fat. There must be a ratio of at least 20% fat to 80% meat. Anything less will render a dry burger. It must be loosly packed, all of you who like to kill the cow twice while you're squeezing, pressing, throwing, slapping, etc. your burger meat are only making things worse for yourself. It must be at least 8 ounces, and seasoned only on the outside with salt and pepper. if you've seasoned the inside and then formed patties, you've already overworked the meat. If you need to season it with anything else, buy better meat.
Cooking the Meat - This can get tricky, and causes a great deal of friction between burger lovers, even among BOTM members. We will therefore provide both opinions.
1. Medium rare is the only way. There is a school of thought out there that the only way to cook a burger is to medium rare. These people are burger purists, and look down on those who order a more fully cooked burger. They believe that this is the only way to enjoy the burger and its componenets. It's notable that most food writers and critics agree.
2. A more fully cooked burger. These people will argue that a true burger chef will know how to cook a burger so that it is not pink on the inside, but still juicy. They will also argue that a well cooked and seasoned burger should stand up to a longer grill time. Either way is acceptable to BOTM, and we will move on.
The bun. This is an often underestimated and often overlooked aspect of the burger, but we believe that it is the second most important element. The bun is the burger's vessel, it transports the burger from the plate to your mouth, and should compliment the burger. It should never, under any circumstance, fall apart. If it does it is either the result of a weak bun, or, a lack of resting the burger after cooking which causes the juices to flow all over the place. While it should never fall apart, it should also never overpower the burger. It can be toasted, but if so not the point where you taste the browning. It should never, under any circumstance, be smaller in circumference than the burger. Sesame seeds are a nice touch.
The condiments. Bacon - A burger must. It should be crispy, not too thick but not too thin, and should add a slight smoky flavor without becoming the main attraction. There should also be enough of it. One slice is not enough.
Cheese - A good melting cheddar works best, but all types of cheese are acceptable. It should always be melted, onto the burger, not the bun. And you should be able to seperate the bun from the burger without losing the bottom half of the bun to the cheese.
Vegtables - Lettuce, tomato, pickles, onion if you must - That's it. And stop with the arugula and heirloom tomatos etc. Iceberg lettuce, red tomato, bread and butter pickles, and red onion.
Spreads - Ketchup, mustard, mayo - That's it. Heinz, French's, and Hellmans. GET THAT FRICKEN AIOLI OUT OF HERE!!!
Sides - The fries must be hot, crispy, fresh, and handcut. Also acceptable are onion rings and tator tots. Most importantly, however, the sides MUST come with the burger. There is a movement in this city to order a burger al la carte. It is our belief that ordering a burger necessarily means getting fries with it. To those restaurants that make us order our fries seperately, you are hurting yourselves, and your customers.
Drinks - Beer, Sodas, Milkshakes
Assembly - There are some who want to cut the burger in half. Purists would argue that this causes juices to fall out. There are BOTM cutters and noncutters so we will not take a position. In any event, the burger needs to hold together. If our plate looks like a bunch of burger parts we're not going to be happy. It's a hand held food, keep the forks and knives, if we need them you did something wrong. Now everyone go out there and get a great burger!!!