How to Cook the Best Burgers All Year Long
Cooking hamburgers to juicy perfection is easy when you choose the right meat and burger recipe…along with a toasted bun, your favorite cheese and a variety of condiments.
Memorial Day traditionally marks the kickoff of the summer grilling season. For some parts of the country, it’s practically a necessity to get outside and grill after a long winter. However, some of the best burgers can be made year-round, in your kitchen—even without a grill—saving you money on fast-food burgers that aren’t nearly as good as what you can create at home. And if you’re like the average American who eats approximately three hamburgers a week, that expense quickly adds up.
This article will review the basics of preparing an amazing all-beef hamburger—starting with the choice of burger and ending with the bun—and everything else in between.
Choose Your Meat Carefully
The next time you reach for the ground beef on sale at the grocery store to make your burger patties, think about how you want your burgers to taste. Do you like to add seasonings and ingredients such as finely chopped onions in your burger patty? If so, then go ahead and purchase the 80 percent lean ground chuck. However, if you want a true beef flavor burger, select ground sirloin.
For something extra special, try either a grass-fed beef burger or even a Kobe-style beef burger. Grass-fed beef will have a lean, super-clean beef flavor, while Kobe beef will provide a smooth texture and rich melt-in-your-mouth flavor due to the high fat content.
A fattier burger is best prepared on a cast-iron skillet to help the burgers stay juicy. If done on the grill, that fat will be lost in in the fire and will also char the hamburger in grease flare ups. The reason so many chefs rely on cast-iron skillets for cooking burgers (or steaks) is that you can achieve a super hot sear, which locks in the juices and creates a flavor-packed crust. It also has a flat, even surface which allows the meat to cook evenly.
Make the Perfect Hamburger Patty
Lightly form the patties by hand, making a slight depression in the middle. Overworked hamburgers become tough…and nobody wants to eat a chewy burger!
As for the patty size, all burgers shrink when cooked (the amount of shrinkage will depend on the amount of fat). Therefore, patties should start out with a larger circumference than the bun upon which it will be served. Thickness should be about an inch; any thicker and you risk a raw center and an overdone exterior.
Cook to Perfection
Only flip once, and do so when the patty “releases” from the grill or pan when lifted. Test a section to see if it easily lifts up. If not, let it cook until the burger no longer sticks to the cooking surface.
Another rule of thumb is to avoid pressing on the patties while cooking, or precious juices will escape.
If adding cheese, be sure to add a slice big enough to enrobe the burger. Add the cheese as soon as you flip the burger the first time so that it has plenty of time to melt.
Select a Bun
There are so many types of buns that, like cheese, it should come down to your personal preference. But burger aficionados agree that the bun should not overwhelm the burger. That is, the bun-to-burger ratio should be equal.
A toasted bun rounds out the overall flavor and crispness of the entire hamburger package. Beware not to char the bun; lightly toasted is all that is needed.
What’s Your Burger Style?
Burgers can be simple or sophisticated. Condiments are completely subjective, although there is general consensus among chefs that Bibb lettuce (also known as Boston lettuce) is the best lettuce to use in your favorite burger recipe because of its ability to stay crisp when it’s nestled among the juicy burger and other condiments. Bibb lettuce is also a wonderful complement to burgers because it imparts a rich, buttery flavor.
When it comes to burger recipes, a Google search will return more than 7 million results. However, one of our go-to sources for fantastic burger recipes is from the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board because we really like cheese on our burgers! Check out Cheese & Burger Society for truly outrageous hamburger ingredient combinations. You’re sure to find a burger recipe that will tempt your taste buds.