Place patties in a single layer or stack and separate layers with non-greased freezer paper. Insert carefully into a freezer bag, lay flat in the freezer (if you have the room), and consume within three months.
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Do not thaw the patties at room temperature. Instead, stick the patties in the refrigerator and wait until they are at least partially thawed. You can grill partially frozen patties, but it may take longer for the centers to finish. This could also result in an unevenly cooked burger.
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Store hamburger patties the same way you’d store ground beef. Either keep the meat in its original container or wrap in saran wrap and insert into a plastic bag. The meat should stay fresh for one to two days.
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As with most meat, the safest way to thaw beef is in the refrigerator. Small cuts of beef can take up to 24 hours, while larger slabs can take a few days. If you’re in a pinch, frozen beef can be thawed in a bowl or container of lukewarm water. Place the bowl or container in the sink and leave under a running faucet. Never allow raw beef to thaw or sit on a counter or cutting board. Since it takes longer to thaw than most meats, it is more susceptible to bacteria growth.
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In order to effectively freeze beef, you’ll want to limit its exposure to air. This not only prevents the production of freezer burn, but also extends its shelf life to three months or longer. The best way to package beef is to wrap it tightly in freezer paper or plastic wrap. You should then wrap the meat in a layer of aluminum foil or place it in a plastic bag.
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For ground beef, keep refrigerated and use within one to two days. It can stay in its original container if the packaging hasn’t been opened. Steaks follow the same protocol, but can last a bit longer at three to five days. It’s actually best to allow a little airflow with stored meat, as tightly-adhered plastic like Saran wrap can make meat sweat and, as a result, less tender. Meat can be transferred to plastic containers, but should be covered loosely.
Never refrigerate raw meat if it’s been sitting out beyond two hours.
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How to Pick Ground Beef
The possibilities with ground beef are seemingly endless, though you’ll probably want to pay the most attention to cost and fat content. Naturally, the lower the fat content, the higher the price. A leaner meat; however, may not taste as moist and flavorful, so keep that in mind if you’re making a meal that’s prone to dryness (like meatloaf or hamburgers). Sometimes the extra fat can make or break a dish.
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Next: How to Thaw Ground Beef
How to Thaw Ground Beef
Like other meats, the best way to thaw ground beef is to leave it in the refrigerator. If you’re in a pinch, take out your frozen meat and place it on a plate under running cold water. A microwave may also work, but it is likely to start cooking your meat, which you’ll want to avoid.
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Two bars in Minneapolis, Matt’s and the 5-8 Club, have competing claims to being the creator of the infamous Juicy Lucy burger (or Jucy Lucy, depending on whom you’re talking to). However CHOW.com’s Supertaster, James Norton, thinks the Blue Door Pub in St. Paul actually serves the Perfect Jucy Lucy—he explains why in this CHOW video. Whichever version you prefer, these cheese-stuffed burgers ooze cheesy goodness with every bite—and now you can make your own at home. Be sure to aim any cheese drips over your French Fries, and serve with our pickle recipe.
What to buy: Fat equals flavor and moisture, so buy high-quality chuck with a fat content of 15 to 20 percent.
While American cheese is standard in a Juicy Lucy, other cheeses that melt well, such as mild cheddar or pepper jack, can be substituted. You could even try making your own version of American cheese; Mark McClusky shows you how in this episode of CHOW’s My Go-To Dish video series.
Soft hamburger buns (skip brioche or crusty buns) work best with the simple flavors of these burgers.
Game plan: Make sure the burger patties rest after cooking so that the juices redistribute in the meat and the cheese isn’t dangerously hot when you bite into the center.
If you’re grilling outside, toast the buns right on the grill while the cooked patties are resting. If you’re grilling inside using a grill pan, toast your buns in the oven, because the moisture left in the pan from cooking the burgers will make the buns soggy.
This recipe was featured as part of our Burger Bonanza!