Food Sunday: Hamburgers
OK, so here we are at Memorial Day weekend and the start of the grilling season. One of the obvious staples of most grill chefs is the versatile hamburger. From the wiki:
The hamburger, a ground beef patty between two slices of bread, was first created in America in 1900 by Louis Lassen, owner of Louis’ Lunch in New Haven, Connecticut. There have been rival claims by Charlie Nagreen, Frank and Charles Menches, Oscar Weber Bilby, and Fletcher David. White Castle traces the origin of the hamburger to Hamburg, Germany with its invention by Otto Kuase. However, it gained national recognition at the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair when the New York Tribune namelessly attributed the hamburger as, “the innovation of a food vendor on the pike.” No conclusive claim has ever been made to end the dispute over the inventor of the hamburger with a variety of claims and evidence asserted since its creation.
Just to start with, the basic ground beef offers a variety of options. Most grocery stores offer a a selection of ground beef with multiple levels of lean/fat ratio. I know my local store generally sells 73/27, 80/20, 85/15, 90/10, and 93/7. I tend to go with 80/20, 85/15, or 90/10 as a good mix of fat and lean. Most stores also offer freshly ground, fresh made patties, or bulk or frozen patties.
One of the joys of the hamburger is all the ways it can be prepared. This is the usual path I use in making my burgers and it doesn’t matter if I am grilling them outdoors are frying in the skillet. I start with roughly a third of a pound of ground beef, shaped into a patty then onto the hot grill. While I like my steaks to be rare to medium rare, the burger for me has to be well done so one of the more difficult actions is just putting the burger on the grill and having the patience to let it cook.
From the basic burger of meat alone, I will sometimes add some things to the patty before throwing it on the grill. For example, I will chop a bit of onion and maybe a bit of green bell pepper and mix it into the burger patty. I might add some Worcestershire sauce, minced garlic, and salt and pepper as well.
If I am frying in the skillet, there’s a great chance I will be frying in bacon grease because I like a slice or two of bacon on top of my burger. I don’t often add the bacon to the grilled burger though.
One of the things I try to do is only turn the burger one time. I also know a lot of folks frown on pressing the burger patty and releasing the grease with the spatula, letting it fall into the charcoal, then flaming the burger but I do like the charred taste.
After my burger is cooked to my satisfaction, I place it on the bun then build the rest of the burger. Lettuce, a slice of onion, and a slice of tomato is usually all I need. Obviously, all the cheese fans are going to add their cheese slice as the burger cooks. Maybe a little mayo on one side of the bun and a dollop of ketchup on top of the burger.
Hamburger recipes from allrecipes.com.
And because I can:
Photo from João André O. Dias licensed under Creative Commons