In musing on salt last week, there’s something that might have occurred to our savvy readers (and let’s be honest – if you’re reading our Theory Thursdays, you’re probably pretty savvy). Yes, we do season every burger…to order. Yes, this is a bit crazy. Yes, we do have our reasons.
But first, let’s talk about why it’s a bit crazy. It would be *way* simpler to salt larger amounts of beef beforehand. First of all, it would save us a task to do the moment before your burger hits the grill (doesn’t sound like much, but think of it this way: would you rather do something once, or 100 times?). Secondly, it’s far easier to be accurate in salting large quantities of food: if we miss by 0.5g on a single patty, you’ll definitely notice, whereas if we miss by 10x that amount on a whole chuck’s worth of beef, it’ll barely register.
So why do we pick this far more difficult method of seasoning our beef “à la minute”? Well, simply put, salt changes the composition of proteins in ground meat. Without getting too technical, it makes those thousands of protein strands a lot more likely to stick together; this is why sausage, which is always heavily salted well before consumption, has a “bouncy” structure. Our burger patty has a decidedly different, non sausage-like texture (we like to think of it as lots and lots of mini steaks). If you eat a burger patty that has been seasoned in large batches, you’ll notice this textural difference (especially if it hasn’t been hand-formed, like our patties are).
We could take the easy route, but we feel strongly that how we salt is incredibly important to the end experience, so it’s one where doing things the hard way is a conscious choice we make. We’re ma-salt-chists.