Burgers, Burgers, and more Burgers

The food trend of the summer is the burger. Everyone from Rachael Ray to Jean George is making them, featuring them, and writing books about them. GKC just had to get our two cents in about them. Here’s what we’ve learned from the newest articles and columns on making burgers plus our own practical and delicious experimenting.

Fat is Good in a meat burger. You want to use ground beef (FRESHLY ground by the butcher) that contains about 80% beef and 20% fat.

Be Gentle! Kneading is for bread. Handle the meat gently and form loose patties to retain flavor. Packed patties become tough.

Burgers need salt and pepper. We recommend kosher salt and pepper and then whatever other seasonings you like, mesquite, onion, etc. The experts are claiming that they need little other than salt and pepper. I still like a few dried spices like onion powder and mustard.

Spatulas are NOT for pressing. Use them for flipping and DO NOT press on your burgers. All that juice that drips out is the flavor.

Make a small indentation in the center of each burger. Burgers contract as they cook, causing the middle to form a dome-like top. Making a small indentation in the center of the patty will keep the burger flat and even and therefore allow all the toppings to stay on under the bun.

Use a meat thermometer to check doneness. A rare burger is about 125 degrees, and a well-done burger is 160 degrees.

Add a little liquid. Some experts disagree with GKC here, but Cook’s Illustrated and Bobby Flay agree that moisture is the key to a juicy burger. Remember no pressing on the burgers to lose moisture. We recommend adding 2 to 3 tablespoons of ice water to the meat or any other liquid of your choice, like a combination of ketchup and Worcestershire sauce, seltzer, beer, mustard, you name it but add a bit to add moisture to the patty.

Buy lots of condiments for a burger bar. We love serving fried onions, guacamole, spicy mustard, sautéed mushrooms, and tons of store bought mustards, salsas, tapenades, or whatever you like, for a fun burger bar evening with guests.

Let us know your best burger tips. And find lots of great burger recipes on GKC!

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