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Burgers - Beef

Updated on October 24, 2020
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Lee has a degree in philosophy, but when cooking, Lee is more like an experimental scientist than an abstract thinker. Loves new ideas.

American classic

So much better than any burger we can buy from a chain. Better, even, than most burgers we can buy in a good restaurant, one that knows how to make them and that is willing to use a full measure of meat. Here the burger goes straight from grill to our plate. No middleman, no waiting. No compromises.

Of course there are many, many places on the web that show how to make a burger like this. Some of them even, in a sense, move (they are videos), which has its advantages. But this one has exactly the opposite, and greater, advantage that it doesn't move. Each step is fixed in a still photo that we can go through, one by one, to remind us of what we already know but like to see again and again -- how to make an American classic the right way.

Two more in this series: Burgers - Mahi-Mahi and Burgers - Salmon.

80/20 Is Best

The thing that makes a beef burger so delicious is its juiciness.. The 20% ground beef gives more of that. Plain and simple.

However, some of us may prefer -- for a variety of reasons -- to work with 90/10. Pretty good also. We are, after all, talking here about a beef burger.

Form into patties. Obviously, the thicker patties will -- in the same amount of time on the grill -- be rarer than the thinner patties. Rare or medium rare is juicy in a burger.

These pictured here were made and cooked on an earlier occasion than those shown below. They were good, too.

Starting out on the grill

We had family members who have different tastes when it comes to burgers that we were grilling for. Some like a big fat juicy one, still rare in the center. Others like smaller ones . Some plunk for medium size and medium well done. We can please everyone.

On the grill they go. A preheated grill. It won't take long. Always preheat the grill.

We have some grilled tomatoes already prepared, but we needed one more.

Three minutes later

Three minutes on the preheated grill, we turned the burgers over. The tomato, too.

The grill is hotter in some spots than in others. So it is a good idea to shuffle the burgers around at this point. The ones that we want to be rare at the finish go to the less hot spots, and those for which we are aiming to have medium or well-done go to the more hot spots on the grill.

It takes a little practice to get this hot spot thing just right, but practice makes perfect, and we are looking for perfection here.

Goes with

Instead of a traditional hamburger bun, we are having something far tastier: grilled sourdough bread. The grilling of the bread is simplicity itself -- just add it to the grill and check frequently as to degree to which the stripes the grill imparts to the bread are progressing.

Lather on some coarse ground Dijon mustard.

The grilled tomato will take care of the true idea that tomatoes and ground beef belong together. Many people prefer ketchup with their burgers. The grilled tomato here substitutes for that here, and the coarse ground mustard adds a bit of zing.

But if ketchup is preferred, then by all means.

Off the grill and onto the bread

This is the thickest of the burgers put on the grill. The idea here is a rare, juicy burger.

We went for three minutes on each side, on that preheated grill of course. That gives us the nice little bit of charring that adds flavor and preserves the juiciness which the grilling develops.

Perfect -- and ready to eat. But a healthy dose of coarse ground pepper should be added before we close the burger up by putting the top piece of grilled sourdough on.

A mouthful

It was difficult to take this picture -- difficult because it meant picking up the camera before picking up the burger and biting into it. A certain amount of restraint was called for, but difficult to come by -- we used the fact that nobody wants to read about an empty plate to control ourselves.

The biting into came soon after, however, and we are happy to report --

-- the American classic is still a juicy, delicious American classic.


Parting facts

The hamburger gets its name, of course, from Hamburg, Germany, a most remarkable city. Dating back to the days of the Hanseatic League and the Holy Roman Empire, it was largely destroyed by Allied bombing during the Second World War. It has come back strong and prosperous, however, and is now Germany's second largest city, located on the Elbe River, not far from the coast.

It’s likely that the hamburger we know now comes from the city's Frikadelle: a large, thick patty of ground beef, stale bread, chopped onion, egg and pepper and salt, pan-fried, but not served on a bun. The addition of the bun and the claim to being the originator of the modern hamburger is a matter which is hotly contested -- generating enough heat, in fact, to grill many burgers. There are many more than a dozen claimants to the throne. It is hard to contest one analysis which concluded that it is "entirely possible that more than one person came up with the idea at the same time in different parts of the country."

Real Meal

Real Meal. Unlike fancy food mags, where images are hyped and food itself is secondary, all pix shown here are from a real meal, prepared and eaten by me and my friends. No throwing anything away till perfection is achieved. This is the real deal --- a Real Meal.


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