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Grilling season is just around the corner if not here! I wanted to share my hints and tips with you today on how to make the perfect homemade burger.
Nothing beats the taste and quality of a good homemade burger. I know the freezer section in most shops and even the chiller cabinets are filled with lots of frozen and ready made burger options, but I have to be honest here.
I have never really bought a ready made or frozen burger that can come up to the quality, taste and pleasure of a homemade, from scratch beef burger!
I know that they are convenient and nice to have in the freezer for those days when you just can’t be asked to cook. And admittedly I do keep a package in there myself. When it comes right down to it however, I would rather make my own.
First of all you get far better value for your money, and secondly, they just plain taste better. Also you know exactly what is in them. (Lets not forget that horse-meat debacle from a few years ago!)
With a few hints and tips, it is possible to make a delicious and simple burger that your family will love and that you will love feeding to them. Attention to just these few details will make all the difference in the world between feeding your family a burger and feeding them a GREAT burger!
Obviously the main ingredient in any beef burger is beef! For a great burger you want to start with the right kind of beef. Get this wrong and the integrity of the whole burger comes into question!
For nice and juicy burgers you want to start with good quality ground beef that has a fat content of at least 18%. Oh, I know we are all watching the fat and calories, but when it comes to burgers, if you go too lean, you end up with a tough and dry result.
The more freshly ground the meat is the more flavourful and tender the meat will be. If you have a meat grinder, I would even recommend grinding the meat yourself. That way you really DO know what is in it.
Did you know that when you buy a package of ground beef at the grocery store that one package could contain the meat from multiple animals? Its true. They just lump all of the meat for ground beef in together and grind it up.
I don’t know about you, but I prefer knowing where my meat came from. We buy only grass fed, hormone free ground beef, which we buy at our local farm market. I have to say that it is some of the best ground beef I have ever eaten, and it is the same color inside that it is on the outside.
Ever notice with grocery store ground beef that the outside might be a beautiful read color, but when you break it open it is grey and dingy inside? YUCK!
To grind your own beef (you can do this with a meat grinder or in a food processor) cut your meat first into chunks. Partially freeze it for about 10 minutes and then pop it into the grinder or food processor, and grind or pulse until ground.
I often put mine through the grinder twice. Trust me when I say this gives you the best meat for burgers!
Just as overhandling your biscuit/scone dough will lead to a tougher result, so will overhandling your meat. The more you handle it the tougher it will be. I try not to add any seasonings to my meat until I am cooking it.
That way I am not handling it at all, save to portion it and shape it into patties. I add all the seasoning when I am cooking it. Onion powder, garlic powder, salt, pepper. It can all be added right at the grill or stove.
To shape the perfect patties, try using wet hands. This keeps your hands from becoming overly sticky and also helps to prevent you from overhandling the meat. It also comes together faster.
If you are hand-shaping your patties, make them thicker at the outsides and thinner in the middle. It also helps to make your patties much larger than the buns you will be filling. All meat shrinks as it cooks.
Making a dimple hollow in the middle of the patty helps to prevent them from being too thick in the middle and results in a much more evenly shaped burger in the end. During cooking, as the burger shrinks, it will fill in that dimple.
Nobody wants a burger that ends up so thick that you can hardly get your mouth around it, or that has an abundance of bread at the edges with no filling.
When it comes to burgers you want to cook them from “Cold.” Unlike steaks or other meats, you want your burger patties to be cold when they hit the pan or grill. This helps to keep them moist and means that all of that flavor giving fat stays in the burger where you want it to be.
Start with a really hot pan or grill. (Also a clean grill if you are using your BBQ) This allows the burgers to start sizzling and cooking immediately and sears the outside, keeping all of those tasty juices inside where they belong.
Resist the temptation to keep flipping and turning the burgers. Agitating anything while it is cooking does more harm and good and allows the juices to escape. It is the same with steaks, mushrooms, whatever.
Flip them only once and only when you have achieved the perfect sear. Also do NOT under any circumstances be tempted to keep pressing them down to achieve that sear. This will only push the juices out.
Two minutes per side for rare, three for medium rare, four for medium and five for well done. Perfect timings.
One exception to this rule is when you are making “Smash Burgers” like these ones I am showing you today. A part of the charm of Smash Burgers is that you smash them really thin and they cook really quickly, again on a very hot pan.
Obviously you won’t want to be making smash burgers on an outdoor grill as you would end up pushing the meat through the grill onto the coals. Not a smart idea.
Finally, give your burgers plenty of resting time after cooking them. This allows them to re-absorb any juices which may have collected on the surface and allows them to finish cooking. No longer than 10 minutes is usually sufficient.
Other than that, pick your favorite bun to eat them in, preferably one that is sturdy enough not to fall apart. I hate burger buns that fall apart when you are eating them. Too soft a bun is usually the culprit. I favor Kaiser buns myself, and I find that toasting any bun on the cut side helps to prevent them from falling apart too much.
Add your favorite burger toppings and enjoy!
Yield: Serves 4
Author: Marie Rayner
Prep time: 5 MinCook time: 5 MinTotal time: 10 Min
Delicious burgers. Nice and brown on the outsides and filled with cheese.
1 pound ground beef (not too fatty, but also not too lean)
salt and black pepper to taste
4 slices of burger cheese
4 toasted buns and toppings as desired
Divide the ground beef mince into 8 equal portions, shaping each into a ball. Heat a large nonstick griddle pan over high heat.
Once it is nice and heated, place the balls of beef onto the griddle pan one at a time and using a non slotted spatula, or the bottom of a cup to press down very heavily on the meat to flatten it out as thin and flat as you can.
Season to taste with salt and black pepper. Cook for about 2 minutes, until nicely browned. You will know when this has happened as the sides of the patties will start to colour.
Flip over. Cook for about 1 minute.
Top half of the patties with 1 slice of cheese and then with the other patties.
Give it half a minute or so to melt the cheese and then place on the toasted buns and serve.
This content (written and photography) is the sole property of The English Kitchen. Any reposting or misuse is not permitted. If you are reading this elsewhere, please know that it is stolen content and you may report it to me at mariealicejoan at aol dot com.
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Debunking the myths of English Cookery, one recipe at a time. The English Kitchen http://theenglishkitchen.blogspot.com/
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