National cookout day, a.k.a Labor Day, is only a few days away. And while some may encourage a day of reflection on the inability of low-wage workers to unionize without striking, we say: “F— McDonald’s! Grill, baby, grill!” We here at Hair of the Dog hope to hear all of you fumbling in your garages for your Smokey Joes or crappy knock-off grills to get ready for the big day.
But once you’ve dug out your grill and scraped away all that charcoal and chicken grease still stuck to the bottom air vent, what are you gonna cook on it? We recommend hamburgers, made from scratch.
1 bale organic, non-GMO wheat, preferably sourced from a farm that specializes in ancient grains
1 cow, raised on a free-range ranch, fed only organic grass, and rubbed with coconut oil once a day
1 batch sourdough starter, made 2 weeks ago by harvesting wild yeasts from the air into a hand-milled flour and water slurry, 100% hydration
Salt, preferably harvested from your own sweat (you can also use salt harvested from your nearest ocean or other body of salt water)
Tellicherry peppercorns, dried on a plot at the top of the East Bay hills (where the weather is hottest)
Part 1: The buns
1. First, grind your wheat into flour using your hand crank mill. You’ll probably have more flour than you need, but you can keep the extra 20 pounds in your basement chest freezer. Be sure to leave room for extra cow.
2. Meanwhile, have a friend milk the cow. Let the cream separate off the top of the milk. Collect the cream in a butter churner and reserve the milk. Have the friend churn the cream into butter. Let it rest at room temperature while you prepare the rest of the bread dough.
3. Combine 450 grams of the hand-milled flour with a cup of raw milk in a stand mixer. If you have access to fresh-from-the-chicken eggs, you can add an egg or two as well. Beat the mixer until it is well-combined. Add a couple of globs of sourdough and continue to beat the mixture until it looks homogenous.
4. Gradually add about 1/2 cup of freshly churned butter to the dough, beating well in between each addition. Once the butter is mixed in, let the dough rest for 20 minutes. Add a big pinch of salt. Knead for 15 minutes or so, until the dough can stretch from one end of the kitchen to the other.
5. Let the dough rise until doubled in bulk, and then shape into rolls. Let the shaped rolls double in bulk and then bake in a 375 degree oven until golden brown and cooked through.
Part 2: The burgers
1. Now that you’ve gotten milk from the cow, you can slaughter it. You’ll want to extensively research the most human way to offing the beast, but the final method is up to you and your conscience. Once you’ve turned your cow into beef, remove the guts, cut the carcass into primals, and reserve the fattiest part of the chuck for your burgers. The rest of the meat can go into your chest freezer next to the flour (be sure to wrap it well).
2. Using a hand grinder (none of that electric shit, please), turn the chuck into hamburger meat. If there doesn’t appear to be enough fat in the meat, add some solid fat chunks from along the cow’s stomach to the grinder. You’re looking for about 70% meat, 30% fat.
3. VERY GENTLY, form the ground beef into 1/3 pound patties. Press the meat together just enough to form solid patties, but not enough to form hockey pucks. If you’ve ever grilled a decent burger, you know what to do. Using your thumb, make a circular depression 1 inch in diameter in the center of each patty. Now they’ll look like round bialys.
4. Light a chimney of real lump hardwood charcoal in your chimney charcoal starter. Don’t have one? You can’t grill. Lighter fluid is for posers. Similarly, gas grills are for no-nothing idiot boomers. You can’t make a real burger on a gas grill.
5. Once the coals are covered in white ash, transfer them to the grill, making a huge pile on one side of the grill (called SUPER HEATING). Cover the grill and let it heat up for 5 minutes or so. Meanwhile, heavily season your burgers with salt and freshly ground pepper.
6. Grease the grill with some leftover beef fat. Place burgers on the SUPER HEATED side of the grill. Cook, flipping every 3 seconds, until the outside is pleasantly charred and the inside is still bloody.
7. Place burgers on freshly baked buns (split in half, duh). Don’t add cheese, ketchup, mustard, or god forbid mayonnaise. Likewise, keep that bunny food away from the meat. No lettuce, tomato, or onion allowed.
8. Eat outside with juice dripping down your arms and legs, caveman-style.