Friday, July 23, 2010

Burger Time

Summer is burger season! But please don’t show up at a cookout with those hockey-puck-shaped premade patties, which have no flavor. The best burgers are made with a big old package of ground beef that has been seasoned and molded into patties by hand. The burger pictured was made in my grill pan, but might’ve been even better on an outdoor grill, if I had one.

We will now walk through the two stages of making a good burger: prepping the meat, and grilling the patty. You could also do your burgers in a skillet with a lid on the stovetop, and the same cooking tips will apply.

The Meat

  • In a medium bowl, dump a package of ground beef that is not too lean, since the grease will seep out during grilling and you don’t want dried-out meat.

  • I add kosher salt, pepper, garlic powder, Worcestershire sauce, and diced onion. You can use additional/different seasonings or accents; Old Bay might be good, or diced pickled jalapeno. (Or just use your spice rub.) This is all totally to taste, so don’t stress too much about proportions.

  • Knead it all together (don’t be squeamish; really get in there and mash it between your fingers). Divide up the meat into hunks; you want about a quarter pound each, so figure out how many pieces that should be based on the size of the package of meat you bought. Roll each hunk into balls between your palms; and then press with your palms to flatten.

  • Keep the patties on a plastic-wrap-covered plate or in Tupperware in the fridge till you’re about to cook it, to help them hold together.

  • The Grill

  • Resist the urge to press the burger with the spatula or flip it too soon. The first will make all the juices run out; the second will make the meat get stuck and/or crumble on the grill. Throw them on, close the lid, and wait to flip until you can easily slide a spatula underneath.

  • Don’t wait until your meat is done to add the cheese, or it will overcook while the cheese melts! I recommend going with the classic American cheese singles here (Kraft or deli-cut; don't get the generic market brands), because they melt evenly and drape the burger, unlike unwieldy chunks of any varietal that doesn’t have to be labeled “cheese product.”

  • As you can tell from the photo, I also made French fries, which Alyce already wrote a post about, so you should read that next.

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