Sunday, August 24, 2008

How to Make the Perfect Hamburger

How to Make the Perfect HamburgerI apologize to all you vegetarians/vegans out there who may shudder at my recipe of the day and actually I'm not a huge meat eater myself. I much prefer a soup, salad, sandwich or pasta than any kind of meat but every once in a while the summer breezes blow just so and I crave a good burger.

So if you're still enjoying the last bits of summer and are looking for ways to use that barbecue I make my favorite combination by topping a patty with a slice of green chili followed by two thin slices of ham and a slice of cheddar.

Simple but it is completely the best combination a hamburger could enjoy.

Now if you'd like a few tips I've picked up over the years about how to make your burgers turn out perfectly tender and juicy here's what I can offer:

1. Use 20% lean ground beef. Yes it's fattier but the fat is what makes the burger hold together and stay juicy. So today may not be that day you want to follow the diet. Finely ground meat such as turkey tends to get mushy and fall apart, meat that is too fatty will shrink into oblivion and meat that is too lean gets tough so worry about the diet tomorrow.

2. Pat your patties gently. Don't crush them as tightly as possible, loosely packed burgers will get nice and crispy on the outside while staying juicy on the inside. You don't want to squeeze them too much while you're forming them, the 20% fat content will help keep them together.

3. Make the patties thin and large. You'll want them about 1/2 inch thick so they cook thoroughly and larger than the buns so that when they shrink they still fit. I've heard that poking a small hole in the middle can help them cook evenly but I've never tested this out--sounds like a fun experiment to try.

4. Heat the grill for a while. You want it hot, so heat it up for a good five or ten minutes on high before slapping the burgers down. They'll stick right away to the grill in panic but just leave them there for three or four minutes and the outside will char enough that they'll loosen up and you can flip them. If you try to turn them too soon they'll just tear up from sticking to the grate.

5. Cook the burgers thoroughly. It's just not safe to cook a burger medium rare anymore with the threat of food born illness creeping up here and there. If you cook it according to these directions it'll turn out flavorful anyway so don't worry about leaving some pink. Well done is the way to go.

6. Don't squeeze the patties. When you've got them on the grill there's the temptation to squash them with your spatula to check if the juices are running clear (a test to see if they're done) but don't! You just lose juice this way. Treat them with love and tenderness and they'll be tender back.

7. Let them sit. As with all cooked meat, let them sit for a few minutes after they're done to let the juices set a bit. The bigger the piece of meat the longer it should sit with a roast turkey standing for 20 minutes before carving.

8. Grill the buns. Choose buns that are fresh and soft but if you have buns that are starting to get stale grilling will cover a multitude of sins. Brush with butter and grill them in a pan until golden brown and they'll be the final piece of perfection.

Sponsored by Dimples and Dandelions--for the Serena and Lily Bedding Collection for Children

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22 comments:

Jennifer said...

Grilling the buns has always been my secret! I have even thrown them in the oven before if I was making shredded chicken or pork in the crock pot and needed the buns to be a bit crunchy for counteracting the soft meat.

Crystal said...

those sound yummy. thanks for the tips. especially on cooking them. i knew about not smushing them a lot but the really hot grill and leaving them there and they won't stick is great. I always flip them too early!

Laurie said...

This is critical information - I've been doing it WRONG in so many ways. Thank you for the tutorial, and my burgers thank you, too.

Maddy said...

Hmm for you next post please could you provide additional guidance as to how we're supposed to open our mouths wide enough to take a bite?

Could it be that Americans have hinged jaws that they can dislocate them like snakes?

sssssss

Amy @ Experience Imagination said...

Mmmmm ...

And, hooray, I now see all your current posts in your feed!

Daisy said...

I spritz mine with non-stick spray before dropping them on the grill. My husband and daughter like theirs with a slice of sweet red pepper. Mmm...I need to grill out at least one more time.

Amy Mossoff said...

I'll have to try the toppings you suggest. I totally agree about the thin burgers well done (or at least medium-well), but properly so that they are not dry. I don't even like the fat, pink burgers most people grill up at home. Steak should be rare to medium rare, but burgers taste better cooked through.

Lapa37 said...

Great advice I have always been a bun toaster.It makes the burger that much yummier. I to must confess to being an early turner....:( That's why my husband doesn't let me near the grill plus I tend to burn whatever I'm cooking on there.

Blondie said...

YUM. I might have to make a hamburger later. Wait. I don't cook... Been thinking of you lately and wondering about all of your summer kiddo projects. I love the bag of water w/ pencils. So clever!!

Suzanne said...

bummer that our BBQ today was driven indoors by rain - I was all set to try Scribbit burgers.

Heffalump said...

We like our burgers with ham and bacon on them, as well as the cheese.
One restaurant we used to eat at served up really large burgers (steak knife instead of a toothpick) with bacon, ham, cheese and a fried egg on it...they were great.

Doll Clothes Gal said...

Great - I'll give it a go. Surprised at the 20% lean beef though.

Beth (A Mom's Life) said...

I love green chilis but I've never thought about using them on a burger!

micaela6955 said...

Mmm, this looks delicious! Now it has got me wanting to grill before the warm weather goes away. I actually like grilling in the fall, not too cold, and not too hot to slave over a hot grill either. So as the leaves start falling, we'll be doing more grilling!

Heather said...

We are big burger eaters! Mike would eat them everyday if I made them. Great tips!!! I'll have to link to this post on my food blog!

Killlashandra said...

Good directions. And I love toasted buns. I can't understand why no one else in my family does though. :)

I couldn't help it, I really like your site and think your craft ideas are so great and a good way to cut some financial corners too. I gave you an award.

Check it out when you have a chance.http://www.killlashandra.org/wordpress/?p=651

John and Laura said...

Ooh, my husband will love you if I actually get around to making him hamburgers thanks to your tips... Want to come over for a bbq?

Trixie said...

I'm drooling.

Okay it's 8am right now and I could so eat a whole burger (and maybe a little potato salad) right now. You know, if you ever decide to start up a food blog, I'm there!

Take Care,

Trixie

Musings of a Housewife said...

Drooling.

J at www.jellyjules.com said...

Mmmm. I love the green chili idea, though I could probably live without the ham. My 'secret' is to season the meat with salt and pepper, and perhaps a bit of paprika. I've read about making an indentation in the middle of the patty, though I haven't tried it either.

Good rolls can make all the difference in the world. As can good tomato, good avocado, good cheese. Mmmm.

Michelle said...

YUM... Nothing like a burger from the bbq in the summer..

Lisa said...

Yum! That looks good! I know that 20% meat always makes a better burger and when I make them for others, it is what I use. But for my family, they get the leanest meat ever. Poor family.