Wowie wow! I just built a dee - lish - iss burger! Sometimes everything just works right. You always say a prayer when you buy supermarket hamburger meat, but purely by chance I found this Harris Ranch beef here in SF that I had heard good things about. I think they treat the animals humanely too, which means a lot to me. But I just bought the fattiest Harris' ground beef they had and went home with hope in my heart. Well, I have done that soooo many times before and been profoundly disappointed. But, I guess today was just my lucky day.
Because, not only was that meat the tops in rich beefy wonderfulness but I did indeed figure out a new trick (for me anyway, probably you all know it already) that I want to pass on to anybody who wants to make a truly great burger, and thus open up the topic at hand for discussion, brainstorming and general shmoozing...
HOW TO BUILD A BETTER BURGER!
What I did differently, that I had never done before was to transfer something from an entirely different recipe because...well, why? Intuition? I dunno. Maybe it was Grandma Gertrude watching out for my cooking from that great kitchen in the sky, because the recipe I borrowed the new trick from was her dearly beloved stuffed cabbage which I've posted here before, and which is absolutely fabulous.
I guess I've been wondering why the only thing she put into the meat besides raw rice was minced onion, salt, freshly ground black pepper and water. Why the water? Well, because rice needs moisture to swell and cook, right? But, could adding water to ground beef, in general, make it more moist, I asked myself...on some unconsious level, because I'd been mulling this subject for weeks since the last time I made the stuffed cabbage. And yes, it really did. The burger had a tenderness and juiciness I have never produced in any burger of my own making before. I also added quite a bit of very finely minced red onion, a bit of kosher salt and enough fresh ground black pepper that I was getting hits of it as I ate that delicious burger.
How much water? I should have measured, but I didn't. Maybe a quarter cup for half a pound of meat. I just put everything into a plastic bag and squoze it (yeah, NOT a real word) maybe a dozen times trying not to over-mix, which is supposed to toughen the meat.
I made 4 very small little patties, only 2 1/2 inches across, but a good inch thick, from 1/2 pound of meat - like amuse bouches - really large flatish meatballs (I was hungry - faster that way), put on a very high flame, and only turned once. Once turned over, sharp cheddar went on top and after a few moments I covered them just to melt the cheese. Served on and under quarters of buttered Oroweat whole wheat toast and topped with Heinz Ketchup. So moist and juicy, so beefy, so absolutely perfect!
Ok, all you burger loving chowhounds: what's YOUR favorite trick for building a better burger?