I've cooked a number of things sous vide so far but haven't done hamburgers, so my wife and I decided to give it a try this past weekend. In Modernist Cuisine, there are a few recommendations for hamburger mixes. MC's favorite is a combination of short rib, aged rib eye, and flank, but since we were planning to grind the meat at home ourselves and were also only cooking for the two of us, we decided to go with one of the other "best bets" listed - 100% short rib.
After picking up some short rib meat and groceries from BJ's, we returned home and started preparing dinner. Using our small meat grinder at home, we ground the meat through a medium die and then gently formed some patties. MC does not recommend seasoning the meat with salt or other types of ground spices since they apparently act like meat glue that will actually make the meat tough.
After forming the patties and sealing them in zip loc bags (recommended over an edge or vacuum sealer because of the absence of pressure that will compress the patties), into the Sous Vide Supreme they went for about 45 mins at 130 degrees.
After coming out of the bath, the patties were dried off, seasoned with salt and pepper (remember that they were not seasoned previously) and then seared quickly in a hot pan. Be careful when handling the patties as they are pretty delicate - we loosely packed them, weary of them eventually becoming tough after cooking.
As the burgers were sous viding, I also cooked up some caramelized onions. I finely sliced up some white onions and slowly cooked them in a pan for about 30 minutes until they were deeply brown and caramelized. Be careful not to burn them! Once they were done, I reserved some onions to use as a topping for the burgers and then blended up the rest with some greek yogurt, salt, and pepper in my Vitamix to make an onion soubise to use as a dip with some pita chips. The dip was pretty awesome and something I definitely recommend.
So with all the items prepped and cooked, the final step was assembly. On top of the toasted bread buns, we placed the burger, some caramelized onions, slices of gouda cheese, arugula, and some chicken liver spread we had leftover sitting in the fridge.
So was the sous vide burger worth the effort? I would actually say no. While it was certainly tasty and a solid burger, made particularly gourmet with a number of condiments and toppings I made, the burger meat itself wasn't anything that I was blown away by. The meat was perfectly cooked but lacked a real beefiness that I was hoping for. Perhaps I was to blame for going lighter than required on the seasoning or perhaps it was the hamburger mix itself. But as far as cooking the meat, I think I could have achieved a similar result with just searing the patties in a hot pan, which would have been much quicker.