Hamburger Love!

This week’s dinner idea is not the most inspiring, but if I were to say I haven’t been craving hamburgers every day this week, I’d be lying. It’s true, it’s true!! I’m in the midst of a junk food crisis! I don’t want anything but crap. We all hit those spells. And though I’m not eating “crap” every day, I haven’t exactly been practicing the best habits.

I love a good burger. I believe it to be one of the best and most comforting sandwiches ever invented (accidentally, they say.)
Most of the time, people over cook their burgers for fear of the nasty E-coli.  This is understandable. In a world where meat packaging is not the most reliable, cooking your meat to proper temperature is important.

We have a good source for our ground meat, and most restaurants in the Portland area source their protein pretty carefully. Personally, I love a medium-rare. Medium is good, but anything above that, and I feel you might be sacrificing the quality and taste of the meat. It’s your call — eat what you feel comfortable with.

I used to make hamburgers by mixing eggs, breadcrumbs, mustard, etc., and found that they mostly tasted like meatloaf on a bun. Which to say, is also awesome, but wasn’t what I wanted. I wanted that good, thick restaurant style burger. That’s when I realized it’s all about the ingredients! [Or lack thereof]

This is all you need:

  • 80/20 Ground chuck [or you basic ground hamburger meat]

**It’s important to have a good fat ratio in your burger. I wouldn’t do anything under 15%. It just makes for a dry [albeit a little healthier] burger**

  • kosher salt [or table salt]
  • Freshly ground black pepper

That’s it!

What you want to taste is the beef. You don’t want to add too much too it. I feel as though that’s what condiments are for.

I like to cook my burgers in a saute pan because it allows the burger to cook in its own juices. A grill works just fine, but you lose a lot of flavor on the coals which smells delicious, but your burger will suffer for it. Just make sure you have some good ventilation or a door open because it can get smokey.

Here’s what you do:
Bring you ground meat to room temperature. I use about a half pound per person. It’s a legit portion, but you can size according to the people at your table. Shape your burgers gently, don’t mix the meat too much. Like pie dough, ground meat becomes tougher the more you mash it together.

Make them into spheres about an inch thick and a bit wider than the circumference of your bun. They will shrink a bit when you cook them. Season with salt and pepper.

Get a saute pan (or grill) really hot. Add a tiny bit of canola oil — just enough to coat the pan. When you start seeing little wisps of smoke from the oil, your pan is perfect. This kind of heat will create the sear you need to keep your juices in. Add your patty and cook on each side for about 3-4 minutes.

A good thing to learn how to do:
Unless you have a thermometer, the best way to tell the “done-ness” of your burger or any piece of meat, is by touch. When you press the center of patty, you can feel it give a bit. You can figure this out by clinching your hand into a fist as tight as it goes. Press the skin between your thumb and index finger. See how it’s really tight? That is what well-done feels like. Loosen a bit: Medium — Loosen all the way: Rare

This takes some practice, but really helps when it comes to cooking your meat properly, or however it is you like to eat it.

**When you burger is done, let is rest for about 5 minutes. You want to let the juices in the burger settle in their rightful and happy places. **

I like to toast the hamburger bun, add a little mayo, caramelized onion, good aged cheddar [though I love the way American cheese tastes on burgers!] and a bit of ketchup on the side. You could add more or less — after all — it’s your burger!

Eat with a side of baked beans and potato salad (My mom’s favorite) or a good salad and steamed veggies. See, it doesn’t all have to be bad for you!

I hope you’ll be cookin’ one of the bad boys sometime soon!


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