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Wednesday, June 30, 2010

How to Make Heavenly Hamburgers

Along with hotdogs, hamburgers are my favorite grilled food - seriously. I have always thought the name "hamburger" was a little (or a lot) misleading as there is no ham in a hamburger. It seems we get the name from the city of Hamburg in Germany. In restaurants in the 19th century they always served some sort of hammered beefsteak. The first time the name "hamburger was used was at the World's Fair in 1904 in St. Louis.

A Few Tips First
  •  The best burgers should contain 20 - 25% fat. Ground chuck has the right fat content and the beefiest flavor. Seriously people - it is the fat that makes burgers taste great.
  • I think the best hamburgers are the ones with just hamburger meat - no addins except maybe a little salt and pepper.
  • When you patty them - handle as little as possible.
  • Use high heat and cook them fast. Resist the urge to press down on your burgers. It just presses all the delicousness out of them and they become hockey puck wannabe's.
  • Flip those burgers only once - it disturbs the juices too much if you keep flipping - resist the urge!

Directions for making the Perfect Hamburger
  1. Get the grill going.  Go ahead and light the grill and set it up for direct grilling over high heat.
  2. Divide your ground beef into equal portions, based on how many patties you are going to make.  You want to end up with about a tennis ball sized portion of ground beef.Grilling Hamburgers
  3. Now gently form each divided portion of ground beef into a tennis ball like shape.  Don’t overdue it, don’t squeeze it, just get it into shape.
  4. Once you have your ground beef balls, gently flatten each ball until it is about a half inch thick.
  5. Now here is a secret.  You have probably experienced the “bloat phenomenon” that makes most inexperienced grill masters try to flatten that patty during grilling.  To keep your burgers from expanding in the middle during grilling, simply use your thumb and create an indention in the middle of the patty before you put it on the grill.  It doesn’t have to be too dramatic, just a little indention like you see in the photo above.
  6. For seasoning, I also suggest that you keep it at a minimum at least in the beginning of your burger career.    I personally think that adding onions or other veggies to your meat classifies as meatloaf, not hamburgers, but that’s just me.  Keep it simple for now, a little Kosher salt, some fresh ground black pepper and perhaps a little garlic powder and you are good to go, just gently rub the seasoning into your patties. Do you see some Worcestershire sauce in the indention picture?  I give you permission to do that if you must :)
  7. Ok, the fire is lit, your meat hasn’t been worked over too hard (other than a dent in the top) and you lightly seasoned your ground beef.  Carry those bad boys out and slide them onto the hottest part of the grill.  Our goal here is to sear the outside of the hamburger to form a great crust, while keeping the insides nice and juicy.  Take note of what time you put them on the grill so you can time this exercise.
  8. After about 4 – 5 minutes (again, it’s hard to say how long it will take to cook a hamburger on your grill, but you’ll know after a few attempts), you should start seeing juices collecting on the top of your burger.  This is a sure sign that the meat is cooking through in the middle, which pushes the juices to the top.Juices starting to form on the top
  9. Flip the burgers over and grill for 1 – 2 minutes shorter than the time it took to start seeing the juices (about 3 – 4 minutes should do the trick for medium-rare to medium, but again, it depends on the grill).  Always err on the side of rare because it is easy to throw the hamburgers back on the grill, but impossible to reverse beef jerky.
  10. Remove the burgers from the grill and let them sit for about 5 minutes while you toast a few buns on the grill! 
Just a side note, I will never give hotdog grilling tips because I like mine burnt and and any one can do that!
What is your favorite grilled food?

 Happy Grilling! 

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  1. Thanks for stoppin' by for a Latte'. I was looking through your blog and you have a lot of great recipes. If you do try kohlrabi, please let me know how it goes and what you think.

  2. We finally learned the secret to grilling burgers. When the meat releases from the grill, it's ready to flip. If it offers resistance, it's not ready, so don't force it.

    We usually cook our burgers slow because we like to have a drink, etc when we grill.

    I heart grilled burgers. We're doing some up this weekend!

  3. Thank you for the great tips on grilling burgers. I can't wait to share the tips with dh. :D

    Thank you for sharing!

  4. Great grilling tips! Not sure if I could go with the higher fat meat, but I do like 'just meat' burgers. Salt, pepper and worcestershire would do the trick!

    In the winter, I do make burgers with onions and other stuff added, but for the summer, the plain meat is best!

  5. I told my husband about this and we cannot wait to try it! Thanks for posting on something seemingly so simple. God bless!

  6. Yum! These look so good. We are making and grilling burgers tomorrow. Can't wait. Thanks for stopping over and commenting. I'm your newest follower.


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