How to Cook the Perfect Burger this Holiday Weekendby Larry Cox on May. 26, 2012, under Uncategorized
This is Memorial Day weekend. I grew up in the South where the holiday was called Decoration Day. It was time when I would accompany my grandmother to three different cemeteries in northwest Arkansas to put flowers on family graves. At some of the rural cemeteries, picnic lunches were brought and it was a time of reconnecting with old friends, maintaining family plots, and, of course, remembering those who had died.
As we celebrate this holiday, millions of us will fire up our grills. The meat of choice will more than likely be beef. To cook a perfect hamburger takes more than slapping some beef on a cooker.
According to Denise Kiernan and Joseph D’Agnese, authors of “Stuff Every American Should Know,” the perfect hamburger begins with choosing the proper meat. Get ground chuck instead of ground beef since chuck comes from a single part of the animal, not a hodgepodge of scraps and unspecified bits. (Think pink slime) Choose meat that is 70-80% fat since the flavor comes from fat and makes the final product juicy. My pick is twice-ground chuck.
To build a better patty, aim for a six-ounce burger. Handle the meat as little as possible, use only the amount to form a patty and use a kitchen scale to gauge the proper weight. Roll the meat into a ball between your palms and then flatten it. Shoot for ½ inch to ¾ inch thick. Gently dent the top with your thumb to keep it from puffing up like a balloon when cooked.
Fire up the grill but don’t begin cooking until you are certain it is so hot you can’t hover your hand over it. Brush the grill lightly with olive or vegetable oil. Sprinkle the patty with salt and pepper, grill for 3 to 4 minutes, then flip and cook the other side for about the same time. This is important: Don’t press the patty with a spatula, otherwise you lose the juices. Cook each patty until the ground beef reaches about 165F.
All of the ingredients should match the meat. If you are choosing cheese, for example, pick one that is thin and sturdy enough to melt on the burger. Bacon should be prepared ahead of time and served grease-free at room temperature. Condiments and fresh vegetables should be good quality.
Assemble burgers as soon as they come off the grill and enjoy.
From “Stuff Every American Should Know” by Denise Kiernan and Joseph D’Agnese (Quirk, $9.95)