February 27, 2010

The Perfect Hamburger (part one) – A chunk of cheese, some Sodium Citrate, and thou…

I was going through the grocery store a few weeks ago when I had a urge for a big, fat, juicy burger.  Since we were a bit rushed that evening, I ended up making pasta instead (my husband was on night shift).  But the thought of a nice meaty burger didn’t leave my mind.

Then I realised that I was overdue for another “Perfect” evening, and that Heston had perfected the hamburger.  I checked the recipe for odd ingredients, and it was actually pretty sane.  Sure, Heston requested beef short ribs that were dry-aged for a minumum of thirty days (HA!  It is to laugh!), but I decided that the Dubai-factor made me able to ignore that bit.  Add in the fact that I’ve recently discovered that the butcher at my local grocery store (Le Marche in Arabian Ranches) does their own butchery, and I figured that sourcing meat would be a doddle.  As for the buns, well, they only wanted strong bread flour, a bunch of eggs, yeast, and something called “Trex” (which google revealed to be vegetable fat which us North Americans call shortening), so there were no worries there.

In fact, there was only one ingredient that was somewhat out of the ordinary.  Heston wanted me to make my own “processed” cheese slices (of course), and he wanted me to use sodium citrate to do it.  Apparently this is available at any chemists.

As you probably know from my earlier post/plea, my local chemist didn’t have any sodium citrate on-hand.  Nor did he know where I could find some.  The Dubai-factor once again had reared its ugly head.  Bugger.

I checked online to see if there was anything that I could use instead of sodium citrate, but I was a wee bit leery of doing chemical experimentation.  I did find a link on how to make my own sodium citrate, but the Health and Safety department at Villa GoodEnough (also known as my husband, “Banner of Chickens”) nixed that in the bud.  By the way, did you know that citric acid is potentially explosive?  Nor I!  Does that mean I can make lemons blow up?

So I resorted to my local information board, www.expatwoman.com.  Within a few hours, I had found someone who had sodium citrate based cystitis potions that she’d make available to me.  Unfortunately they were cranberry flavoured, which certainly would not be Heston-approved.  Then another lady (the lovely Dr. KittyKat79) posted that she had a big bottle of sodium citrate sitting next to her in her laboratory.  And she was willing to get some for me! 

I feel a wee bit ashamed about how excited this made me.  But, trust me, I was absolutely delirious with joy.

A few emails later and a rendezvous was arranged.  We had initially considered meeting on the side of the road for the delivery of the white powder, but thought that it might be a wee bit suspicious.  Instead, I met up with Dr. KittyKat and her mother for a coffee.

We met, I got the bottle of sodium citrate (and a bag of hay, which will feature in another recipe soon), they decided that while I was unhinged, I was pretty harmless with it, and so, when I invited them to Perfect Burger night, they were happy to accept.  I got in my car, with a big bottle of citrate in my purse, and cackled merrily all the way home.

The Perfect Burger was ON!!!