There are few foods that are as celebrated as the All-American Hamburger…
Other foods come to mind such as fried chicken, BBQ, and pizza but, the one food that most will jump at the chance to have is the hamburger.
We have even dedicated the month of May as National Burger Month. Few of us need an excuse for a month-long lunch or dinner food orgy focused on ground beef in a bun. Is it really that simple though? Go online and surf the different menus of your local favorite restaurants or pubs and look at their offerings to us Burger Fans. They run the gambit from simple ¼ lb. beef patty on a run-of-the-mill sesame bun to Wagyu Beef with truffle and brioche bun.
Don’t even get started on the toppings for those offerings. One can find a spectrum from that All-American Classic, with mayo, mustard, ketchup, lettuce, pickles and onion (oh yes, pickles are important) to such delicacies as truffle-oil-infused house-made cheese (thank you, Umami Burger) and shredded, slow-braised short-rib topping with smoked Maui onion. The sauces also take us on a ride with ethnic or regional styles such as chipotle or habanero aioli for the not-so-faint-of heart, to Japanese ginger sauce.
But for those of us wishing to enjoy a handful of tasty heritage at home, there are a few simple steps to insure that the burger is all it can be.
- Ideal meat-to-fat ratio is 80/20, period. Use any mix of beef–a sirloin and chuck mix seems to be a general favorite–with the freshness of the grind being a major consideration.
- Stay away from the prepackaged logs of ground stuff in the meat section of the local grocery store. This has been ground, processed and shoved into a plastic tube, and any resemblance of freshness and taste (let alone beef…) has been left behind. Go to a grocery store with a real butcher in the meat department. Ask when the beef was ground. I like it when it is only a few hours old. More than that, and flavor is leaving the building!
- If you are feeling adventurous and have a food processor, buy some sirloin and chuck, trim it slightly and throw it in a food processor. Don’t trim too much fat off; you want it in there.
Alton Brown from Food Network has a good recipe to follow. I like to have mine a bit on the chunky side, not finely ground. Shape it into the patty you feel is your size. I like about a third-of-a-pound patty. But if you want, go with your gut and get big! Just press it together enough to hold it together during cooking, as you need those spaces between the bits of meat to hold the juices during cooking.
Season your beef patty with kosher salt and fresh ground pepper just before cooking. Get your grill fairly hot. You want to cook it quickly to form that crunchy crust, but don’t burn it. For medium, when the pink juices rise to the top, it’s time to flip. Then in about three minutes you’re ready to go. Throw cheese on at the last minute to get it melted (closing the lid will help), and put your patty on the bun of choice. Now I like my toppings just as much as anyone, but if you put too much up there, the patty will slide out from the bun.
Burger for one? You bet!
It’s easy to put together, and the reward of sitting down to a grilled pub-style burger with your favorite beverage is the best! No crowd or line to wait in, just chillin’ and grillin’ your mouth-watering, All-American favorite – the Hamburger!