Kitchen & Pantry

Firm, juicy burgers

It’s easy enough to enter a fast food outlet and order a burger but there’s still nothing like home grilled burgers. First, you know exactly how much meat — and how much extenders — go into each patty. Second, you can control the amount of seasonings according to your exact preferences. Third, you can have it well done, rare or medium rare without fear of bacteria contamination since the burgers will be served within minutes after they are off the grill.

It’s easy enough to season ground beef, form them into patties and grill them. But there are a few tips that can turn your burger from a good one to a great one.

1. Do NOT freeze ground beef. If you buy your ground beef today but plan on making burgers tomorrow, keep the meat in the coldest part of the fridge instead of the freezer. Notice how water separates from meat when thawed? That’s all the juices you lose which, ideally, should stay in the meat to keep it moist during cooking.

2. Ground meat can be coarsely or finely ground. Opt for the finest grind of meat for burgers so that the patties don’t fall apart. The finer the grind, the more tightly packed the patties are. That means using binders like eggs and bread crumbs become optional.

3. After seasoning the ground beef and forming them into patties, stack them on a plate, separated by pieces of wax (non-stick baking) paper and keep them in the fridge for about thirty minutes. Chilling makes them firm, handling is easier and there is less chance that the burger will break when placed on the grill or pan.

4. Grill, fry or broil burgers over very high heat and for the shortest cooking time possible. You want to sear and seal the patties as soon as they touch the heat to keep the juices in. Ground beef takes little time to cook since there are no large fibers to break — the meat is already ground, remember — so don’t cook them for a long time. The longer you cook them, the drier they will be. So, cook one side for four to six minutes, depending on the thickness, flip over and cook the other side for three to four minutes.

5. Let the burgers rest for a minute or so before serving to allow the juices to stabilize. Burgers are like steaks — they need to rest so that the juices don’t come dripping off when they’re cut.

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