Schweid & Sons’ Jamie Schweid on How to Make the Perfect Burger
Doing one thing very, very well has been New York-based Schweid & Sons’ stock in trade since 1978, when David Schweid decided to focus all the attention of the family butcher shop — which was founded by his grandfather nearly 100 years prior — on ground beef. Today, the company is run by fourth-generation owner Jamie Schweid, who produces a wide range of ground beef, including custom blends, all-natural, wagyu, and Certified Angus and sells it to supermarkets, restaurants, and special events nationwide.
We had the opportunity to ask Jamie some questions about a subject that’s obviously near and dear to his heart: burgers. Here’s what he had to say:
The Daily Meal: What, in your opinion, is the definition of the perfect burger?
Jamie Schweid: A perfect burger should be a simple as possible in order to really let the flavor of the beef come through. My personal favorite burger is an eight-ounce patty of our Schweid & Sons One Percenter blend cooked medium rare, topped with sweet barbecue sauce and served on an untoasted potato roll.
What’s the ideal meat blend?
The most ideal blend (for me, at least) is 100 percent USDA Prime chuck. Chuck is one of the best cuts used for ground beef because it is a whole muscle. The chuck or the shoulder is very used muscle, creating a firm texture in ground beef. When chuck is marbled at the highest level, USDA Prime, you end up with a burger that is juicy and has amazing texture.
What’s the ideal lean-to-fat ratio?
I prefer 75 percent lean, 25 percent fat, but the highest you should go is 80/20. Fat gives flavor to the beef, so you never want to go less than 80/20 so that you’re really getting the best taste out of your burger. The leaner the burger, the less juice you have, which leads to a dry piece of beef.
What’s the ideal size?
I like eight ounces, because it is hearty enough to eat as your main course but also is a great size for sharing a burger as an appetizer.
What’s the best way to tell if a burger is cooked to your liking without cutting into it?
I like to use what I call “The Face Method”: Take your finger and press on the burger as it’s cooking. If the consistency of the burger is the same as your cheek, then it’s medium rare; if it feels like your chin, then it’s medium; and if it feels like your forehead, it’s cooked medium well.
What are your ideal burger toppings?
Keep it simple: yellow American cheese and sweet barbecue sauce served on an untoasted potato roll.
Are there any restaurants that serve your favorite burgers?
I love the Pincho Factory down in Miami because of the vision they have in mixing in their cultural flavors and techniques, making something that is totally their own.
I also like the Hard Times Sundaes truck (New York City) burger because of the simplicity of the burger. They use the most marbled cut of beef possible along with American cheese, sautéed onions, and bacon. Those elements of a burger have not changed for years, but the way Hard Times prepares the burger, you would think it was their own.
Down south in Richmond, Virginia, Carytown Burgers & Fries has this burger called The Bomb that has melted Cheddar, bacon, Chuckie’s Chili, grilled onions, and mushrooms. You are going to need paper towels, not napkins, to wipe off after eating this this amazingly delicious burger.