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« Capturing a Taste of Summer | Main | Baked Beans and Fourth of July Fixins’ »

It’s Always Time for Burgers

By Sandy Hu
The latest from Inside Special Fork

The Fourth of July may have come and gone, but burgers are on my menu year-round. They’re easy on the budget, quick to fix, and convenient to eat, with meat and veggies tucked in a hand-held bun.

When I travel on business and need room service, I usually choose a burger because it's consistently good and always reasonably priced. Some of the other menu items may sound enticing but there’s no guarantee the hotel can meet expectations.

If you saw the recent New York Times story, Sam Sifton maintains that the best burgers are not cooked directly on the grill, but in a cast iron pan so the burger cooks in its own fat.

That may be, but I still want to see grill marks on my burger and the way Steve grills burgers leaves them very delicious and plenty juicy.

Here are some of his grilling tips:

  • Use ground beef that’s 15 to 20 percent fat; too lean meat will result in a dry burger.
  • Add a little bread crumbs and chopped onion to the meat mixture. Steve uses 3 to 4 tablespoons of dry breadcrumbs per pound of meat and prefers coarse breadcrumbs made from leftover French bread. His logic is that the breadcrumbs act as a sponge to absorb the meat juices, keeping them in the burger. He also adds a large egg per pound of ground beef as a binder.
  • Keep ground beef chilled until the last minute and mix lightly.
  • Form the burgers very loosely – don’t compact them and don’t overwork the meat or you’ll have tough burgers.
  • Steve prefers to make 5- to 6-ounce burgers and shapes them so they’re thick enough to get crust on the outside while remaining juicy inside (about ½- to ¾-inch thick).
  • For a burger of even thickness, make an indentation in the center of the patty as you shape it because the middle will rise as it cooks.
  • Cook shaped burgers immediately or return to the fridge until ready to grill.
  • When cooking, don’t keep turning the burgers; flip just once when you get a sear; it depends on the thickness of the burger and your heat, but Steve’s burgers cook in about 3 minutes on each side.
  • To determine doneness, USDA recommends using an instant read thermometer and ensuring burgers reach 160°F.

Special Fork has an excellent collection of burger recipes in its database. Try some of these:

  • Guacamole Burgers -- these burgers are topped with lettuce, tomato, onion and a generous dollop of homemade guacamole.
  • Spicy Black Bean Burgers -- this delicious vegetarian burger incorporates seeds and spices to give it flavor; you won’t miss the meat.
  • Super-Speedy Sliders -- Lori Powell’s sliders recipe serves two and can be made with ground beef, bison or chicken.
  • Burgers with Grilled Onions -- this is the classic burger recipe.
  • Teriyaki Burgers -- this mouthwatering burger will make your whole neighborhood smell like Hawaii on the beach. Break out the sunscreen.

Special Fork is a recipe website for your smartphone and PC that solves the daily dinnertime dilemma: what to cook now! Check out our recipe database for quick ideas that take no more than 30 minutes of prep time. Follow us on Facebook , Twitter, Pinterest, and YouTube.

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