Ways to Make Your Burgers Unique
The weather is warming up, the grills are coming out and we're ready for hamburgers! Here are three ways to make your burgers unique; methods you didn't know could make meat more delicious.
Blend Your Meat
A burger doesn't have to be all beef. Blending meats is the simplest way to make your burger unique. Unless you plan on grinding your own meat (which is recommended by most burger experts), blending your meat is easy.
Beef and Pork:
- 12 ounces (80/20) ground beef
- 12 ounces ground pork
- Makes six 4-oz. burgers
Beef and Chorizo:
- 1 lb. lean (at least 80%) ground beef
- 1/2 lb. bulk chorizo sausage
- Makes six 4-oz. burgers
Beef and Beef:
Of course you can make a burger made with all beef, but even that can be unique. The trick is to blend the different cuts of meat to get the perfect balance of flavor and texture. It's all very scientific, but if you're serious about burgers it might be worth the effort. According to Serious Eats' Burger Lab, the following blend of meat makes the perfect beef burger:
- 6 ounces beef sirloin, trimmed of gristle, and cut into 1-inch cubes
- 5 ounces beef brisket, trimmed of gristle, and cut into 1-inch cubes
- 12 ounces oxtail, fat and meat carefully removed from bone and trimmed of silverskin, bones discarded or reserved for another use (about 5 ounces of combined meat and fat)
- Makes six 3.8-oz. burgers.
Forget the Grill
Because a great burger is built on the juice you lose in the fire when you're grilling, cook it on a griddle or a pan for best results. And if you want to try something really crazy, go sous vide on the burger.
Sous vide is a method of cooking that involves wrapping food in plastic and submerging it in a water bath. It sounds crazy, but because food doesn't lose moisture in the cooking process, it makes a supremely juicy burger.
And while we're discussing water, you can also steam your burger. People in Connecticut love steamed burgers and it's something you can try at home.
Garnish Your Grub
How do you top a perfectly cooked burger? The possibilities for burger toppings are endless. Here are toppings for the some of America's notable burgers:
Bobcat Bite,Santa Fe, NM
Green chilis and white American cheese on a ciabatta-like bun
Perini Ranch Steakhouse,
Buffalo Gap, TX
Mushrooms, onions, green chilis and choice of cheddar or provolone cheese
Green Street Grill,Boston, MA
Two beef patties, white American cheese, smoked bacon and Russian dressing
Tips to keep in mind while making your burgers:
Seasoning is important, but do not salt meat until just before you throw it on the grill. Salt toughens the meat and the longer it's on there, the lousier the burger is.
Don't squish the meat:
When you're making your patties, don't overwork the meat and don't squish it while you're cooking it. If you press down on the meat during grilling, you'll squeeze out all the precious juices. To avoid a baseball shaped burger, when you form the patty, press your thumb into the middle to make an indentation. This will make your burger flat and juicy.
Flipping the burger often will give you a more evenly cooked burger, but it's not necessary. You'll know you're ready to flip it when little drops of blood bubble up (about three minutes). On the second side, let it cook for four minutes for medium-rare for beef. If you're using a blend of meats other than beef, make sure it's cooked all the way through. Cook it for about five minutes on the second side. To be safe, invest in an instant-read thermometer. The temperatures for levels of doneness are as follows:
- 120°F and below for rare (red and raw in the center)
- 130°F for medium-rare (pink and warm)
- 140°F for medium (pink, warmer and drying out)
- 150°F for medium-well (grayish, drier)
- 160°F and above for well done (gray, very dry)
Temperature is an important element of food safety. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has specific temperature guidelines for cooking and eating different types of meat.