(Above: You can add cheese, or bacon to these burgers, but I wouldn’t add anything else: except maybe some of your favorite condiments.)
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Sometimes the simplest and easiest way is the best. Such is the case with the burger.
Yet many backyard chefs go overboard trying to jazz up the all-American favorite by adding too many ingredients to the meat and then pounding it into oblivion while trying to shape the patty.
Or worse, they choose to go the ultra-lazy route by buying those tasteless, pre-made patties (yech!!).
A few years ago, an article in Gourmet Magazine brought me back to my hamburger roots. It was written by the editor, Ruth Reichl, and in it she explained how to make the best burger. This is the hamburger recipe of my childhood, similar to the way my mother and grandmother made hamburgers (although I remember my grandmother adding some fresh chopped parsley to the burgers).
First a few tips:
- Buy hamburger with a higher fat count: 80 or even 70 percent lean works. I know that many people believe less fat is better. It may be a bit healthier but it’s not more flavorful. Flavor comes from fat. And hey, you’re eating a hamburger, not cottage cheese, so you may as well be all in.
- When forming the burger, keep it loose. Just work the meat enough to form it into a patty and be gentle. You don’t want to pack it tightly.
- Use Kosher salt. There’s a difference between regular salt and Kosher salt and that wonderful difference makes a big difference when making hamburgers. Kosher salt crystals are larger and more flavorful. Sprinkle both sides of the burgers liberally with Kosher salt before you put them on the grill. If you’re frying them, don’t grease the pan with butter or anything else. Just sprinkle some Kosher salt in the pan before putting in the burgers.
- Don’t play with your meat. Cook the burgers fully on one side before turning them over. And never, ever use a spatula to press down on the burger while it cooks. This is how you lose valuable, tasty, delicious juice.
The Perfect Burger
There's no need to make this more difficult. Easy is best, especially when making the perfect burger.
- Ground beef, 1 pound (Use beef with a high fat count. 80 percent, or even 70 percent, lean is good)
- Kosher salt, 1 tablespoon or to taste (You can use regular salt, but Kosher salt makes these burgers so much better)
- Step 1 Take a 1/4 pound or so of the ground beef and very gently form a patty in your hands. Do not pack it tightly with your hands. This is very important. Just stick it together so that it remains a little crumbly but won’t fall apart. Be gentle.
- Step 2 Sprinkle both sides of each burger with some Kosher salt.
- Step 3 Place patties on the grill. Or if you’re frying them, sprinkle a little Kosher salt in a frying pan before putting the patties in. Do not grease the pan with anything. Just use salt.
- Step 4 Turn them over once. Do not press them down with a spatula or touch them again in any way. When you see some blood forming on the top of the burger turn it over. Add cheese (if you want the perfect cheeseburger).
- Step 5 Cook until done and serve on a grilled or toasted hamburger bun. Add a slice of cooked bacon on top for a bacon burger.