One of my favorite Mark Bittman articles is “For the love of a good burger“, where he details how he likes to cook his burgers. The essence of the technique, as best I understand it, is to use a good but fatty cut of meat, grind your own meat, and then don’t compress your patties. When talking about compression, Bittman shares this bit of wisdom:

The patties should weigh about 6 ounces each: not small, but not huge, either. Handle the meat gently. Make the patties with a light hand, and don’t press on them with a spatula, like a hurried short-order cook.

It’s not exclusive to Mark Bittman either.  In Tony Rosenberg’s article, “A Perfect Burger, Top to Bottom“, he talks about forming the patties and again, there is an emphasis on being gentle when doing so:

Then work gently to make thin patties. If you really pack the burgers (particularly if you’re using leaner beef), they will acquire a dense, meatloaf-like texture. Thin burgers cook quickly and don’t ball up into fat pucks (heat tends to shrink the patties), plus you get a good balance of meat, toppings and bun in each bite. Gently press and stretch the patties, sprinkle them with a little salt, and make your way to the grill.

And in an article based on the advice of Bobby Flay, we see:

To get a nice char on the meat while keeping the inside juicy, cook over high heat, according to Flay, who cautions that you shouldn’t play with the meat while it’s on the grill: Place each patty on the grill (which you should have preheated for 15 to 20 minutes), let it get brown and slightly charred (this will take about 3 minutes), and then flip it. Flip each burger only once or they will start to fall apart. Don’t press on the burger either; this will cause juices to come out of the meat and will cause annoying flare-ups.

I have had in my life, maybe one and a half, maybe two “Bittman” burgers, burgers that were not flattened until the meat was firm and hard. Both times I’ve have had them at Ted’s Montana Grill, once in Cumberland Mall, and the half in Snellville. In each case the meat was almost falling out of the burger, the patty really wasn’t held together with much more than a prayer. But the meat is insanely tender when handled in this way. It’s not a style of burger that everyone likes. My reader Susan doesn’t, and calls them “crumbly”. Personally, I like the idea of hamburger that almost melts in the mouth and is, to my tastes, sublime.

I’ve been in communications with Foodie Buddha on the matter, he of the affable disposition and the nice burger joint tag. But I really want to throw this whole question open to the blogosphere: is there any restaurant in Atlanta that actually serves a good “Bittman” burger? Is there any restaurant anywhere that serves a burger without being pressed to death by short-order cooks? If not, why not? If so, why?

Notes: The blog ToastPoint has an interesting attempt to make a “Bittman” burger at home. Other interesting Bittman burger articles include the “Inside out Lamb Cheeseburger” and “The Real Burger“.  The blog “Eat” has an intriguing article on making a Bittman style lamburger. Checking the WordPress tag “great hamburgers” yields this interesting blog report on Burger Meister in San Francisco from the Meat Meister’s blog. Checking the WordPress tag “the perfect burger” reveals this review, by Dorothy on the Hill, of a place called the Eat Bar, in the Washington D.C. area.

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