Kate's Cuisine

Jun 05 2017

How to Make the Perfect Burger

The perfect burger

The weather hasn’t been all that cooperative for those of us around these parts that would like to start grilling, but that hasn’t stopped us either. And they say that sunnier days are in the forecast – hopefully for many months to come – so that means the grills are just getting warmed  up! With that in mind, let’s take a minute to talk about what actually makes a perfect burger.

It’s a subject of much debate, but to me, a burger needs to be juicy, not overly seasoned, and without a lot of binding agents. The meat really should speak for itself, although I do find a couple additions are necessary. The perfect burger can’t be as flat as a pancake, but it can’t be so large I find I have a hard time eating it either. And of course, it needs to stay together from the time it’s shaped to the time it makes it to the bun, otherwise you may as well have just browned ground beef in a pan.

Here are some tips and opinions I’ve picked up along my burger-making way. Sometimes I agree with the pros, sometimes I don’t.

  • Start with the right kind of meat. Ground beef is the obvious choice for most burgers, and it has to have enough fat content to keep the burger from drying out while cooking. I don’t have a butcher I see regularly, and I don’t own a meat grinder, so I just pick up a package of regular ground beef, content that is has the fat content I need.
  • Don’t go crazy with seasonings. I used to fill my burgers with seasonings like onion powder, garlic powder, paprika, and Worcestershire sauce, but it’s a practice I’ve stopped. Like a good steak, I now find that burgers really do taste best when the meat is largely left alone.
  • Use eggs. I find one egg to a  pound of meat is enough to keep the burgers together while they’re cooking. Bobby Flay is a true purist and argues time and time again against adding anything – even eggs – to the meat. I respectfully disagree.
  • Don’t use breadcrumbs. It’s a burger, not a meatloaf. Breadcrumbs have no place in burgers.
  • Mix the meat, but don’t over mix the meat. Mixing the meat is really just to incorporate the egg and get everything to come together. As soon as it’s done that, stop mixing. Over-mixed meat means tough burgers.
  • Weigh the burgers so that they’re about 5 to 6 ounces each. Grab a small handful, place it on a scale and add or take away meat as necessary. Shape it into a patty about 1/4″ thick.
  • Once the patty has been formed, make an indent in the center with your thumb. This is another tip from Bobby Flay, and one I happen to agree with. This will prevent “softball burgers” and will also prevent the burger from shrinking.
  • Place burgers in the freezer for half an hour before cooking. This will help them firm up, reducing the chance that they’ll fall apart, especially on an outdoor grill.
  • Preheat an indoor or outdoor grill, cast iron pan or other skillet over high heat. Allow it to get very hot before placing burgers on.
  • Drizzle the burgers with olive oil and season generously with salt and pepper. Place onto the grill or skillet.
  • Let the burgers cook for about four minutes per side for a medium cook on the meat, about 6 minutes per side for well done.
  • Only flip the meat once. Letting the meat cook will help form a crust, which will prevent the meat from breaking up and falling in between the slats, or breaking up in the pan.
  • Add as many toppings as you’d like! Like tacos, the toppings are one of the best parts!

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