Thursday, February 23, 2012

A Man's Burger Part I: The Frontiersman

Hamburgers. I'm rarely unhappy when I have one in my paws. From the greasy Five Guy's style through the fancy steakhouse offering, I'll gladly take it. But from the first time you realized as a child that the cafeteria burger you were eating had as much flavor as cardboard, you learned the truth that all burgers are not created equal. For me, the quest to find the ultimate burger has stretched across the globe- only to end in my backyard. Yes, I dare say I have found the pinnacle of them all: The Frontiersman.
It is not your average burger. You won't be able to whip out frozen patties and throw them on a grill and have dinner 10 minutes later, but the time you invest in this bad boy will be worth its weight in gold. The end result is a dry-rubbed patty topped with lettuce, bacon, and pulled BBQ beef- made portable by a toasted chibata roll. Here's a look at how to pull off this piece of culinary art.

*I know, I should have a drool worthy picture here. Next time I make these I'll put one up.

2 lbs 80/20 ground chuck
3 lb beef shoulder
1 lb Applewood smoked bacon
1 large red onion
2 garlic cloves
12 oz. your favorite BBQ sauce
1 can dry beef dry rub seasoning
6 chibata rolls
1 tbsp thyme
1.5 cups of beef stock
Crisp green lettuce (the greener and more crisp the better)

Prep time: 30-40 minutes
Cook time: 10 hours
Serves: 6 (+leftovers)

(If you have a smoker, the best way to do the beef shoulder is in the smoker. I don't [yet] so I make do with a croc pot and it gets the job done. I'll list the croc pot directions here.)
  1. Trim the excess fat on the beef shoulder. 
  2. Place in croc pot and add beef stock. 
  3. Brush exposed meat with BBQ sauce and cook for 10 hours on low setting.
About 50 minutes before the beef shoulder is done, start the prep for the burgers.
  1. Slice off enough onion rings for six burgers. 
  2. Finely chop the remaining onion (about 1/3 cup needed).
  3. Mince garlic. 
  4. Saute onion, garlic and thyme together.(Side note: when cooking with herbs, "grind" them with your palms to help release the flavorful oils before throwing them in the pot) Set aside and let cool.
  5. Fry bacon.
  6. Mix the sauteed mixture with the beef once it has cooled enough to touch it and form the ground beef into six oz patties (yields six patties).
  7. Coat the patties in the dry rub mixture. 
  8. Let the burgers sit on the counter for 20 minutes before grilling
My grilling techniques have been greatly changed since my dad showed me Amazing Ribs. If you really want to be a master of the flame- check this guy out. If you're tired of smelling all the great food in your kitchen and just want to eat:
  1. Heat the grill as hot as you can get it. Let that temperature hold for 15 minutes. 
  2. Place the meat on direct high heat.
  3. Cook for 4-5 minutes per side. You should end up with a little bit if pink the the middle. For legal reasons I'll add that you should cook it to an internal temperature of 160 degrees, but its your meat.
  4. Toast the buns until golden brown.
Grand Finale
  1. Drain the beef shoulder. Shred the beef with a fork and add copious amounts of bbq sauce.
  2. Layer the monster accordingly from bottom to top: bun, lettuce, burger, 2 bacon strips, a generous amount of pulled beef red onion rings, bun.
  3. Serve with mashed taters and baked beans. 
  4. Prepare thyself for back slaps of appreciation.


  1. I love #4 of the Grand Finale!

    Help me understand the meat-on-meat-on-meat concept? Is it a guy thing? Do I just have to get over it and give in?? :)

    Well done (or medium well), Timoteo!

  2. It's most definitely a guy thing. And well done turns beef into a dry desecration of flavor. Med-Well is acceptable on ground beef if you're unsure of it's quality (i.e. grocery store meat) just because it's more prone to bacteria growth since it's been handled more than a T-bone for instance. All other beef I want mooing.

  3. I still remember the day I discovered beef's true essence by cooking it medium rare instead of medium well/well done. The flavor boost is epic. The conclusion: Beef is meant to be juicy; that juice should be red.

  4. SCB, the meat on meat concept is beloved by pretty much every guy I know. I had one friend who talked about how he loved meat stuffed inside of another true.

    Michael, it is true that beef (at least steak) is better the less it is cooked. Tonight I cooked a steak and had it more rare than I have ever eaten. My goodness it was excellent.