Face it...finding a really good, quality, crave-inspiring hamburger is tough, tough work. Kudos to those who are able to do it, but the reality is that cooking for the masses makes super high quality food very difficult to deliver. Even if it is just hamburger.
This is a variation on a recipe I actually read in Maxim, which taught me a couple of things about the general practice of patty making that were pretty valuable.
For example, adding one raw egg per pound of hamburger helps to keep the meat from separating / shrinking unevenly once you put it on the heat. Want to add a liquid for flavor? Add some breadcrumbs to keep it from turning your meat into a stew.
These tips work for me, and with perhaps a little practice, they'll work for you.
80% - 85% ground beef (or better if you can get it).
- Fat content trumps all - don't sweat ground top sirloin, it's too lean. First timers can go with 85%
- About 1/4# per person goes a long way
1 raw egg
Worcestershire sauce, A1, or your favorite savory liquid beef seasoning
- We're quite fond of Andria's brush-on steak sauce
Sharp or Extra-sharp cheddar cheese
Thick sliced bacon (applewood or pepper will work)
Good quality bun, but probably not potato bread for this application (due to sweetness and moisture, both of which interfere)
Optionally, you can mix in chopped fresh jalapeno peppers (might want to leave out the capsaicin-laden seeds). I recommend against mushrooms for this recipe, and it's doubtful you'll want or need lettuce & tomato, but hey, diff'rent strokes for diff'rent folks.
1) Let the meat come up to room temperature, for the sake of your hands.
2) In a large bowl (stainless works well), add all of the meat plus the sauce of your choice (in small increments), while blending it into the meat by kneading it with your hands. The meat should be evenly colored by the liquid, but not saturated by it. In short, don't be afraid to use some.
3) Add one egg per pound of meat (or just do this in one pound batches), and mix into the meat evenly. It should be coming cleanly away from the sides of a stainless bowl, in one big piece.
4) Add bread crumbs, which helps to bind the meat together and absorb the flavoring. You can add more liquid at this point, using your heart as your guide...balance out with breadcrumbs - typically 1/4 cup at a time or less.
5) Season with fresh pepper, and salt (unless your liquid is extremely salty). Don't be stingy with them.
6) Wash your hands - they'll be coated with fat right about now.
7) Tear off some 12" or longer sheets of aluminum foil - heavy duty works well. See, I told you to wash your hands. One per patty.
8) Pull off a palm-sized ball of the hamburger, and form into a mostly round ball. As you're working it around, you should notice that it has no seams or creases. If it does, it probably needs more liquid or some more egg in the worst case.
9) Place the patty in the center of the bottom-half of an aluminum foil sheet. Fold the top half of the aluminum foil sheet over the patty. Press down on the patty with something like a small cutting board, firmly, until it's about 3/4" thick or less.
10) Crease the edges of the aluminum foil, and set aside. Repeat for the remainder of the meat.
0) Have someone cook the bacon about 20 minutes before you plan to eat. Keep it in the microwave so it stays warm.
1) Heat your grill to medium-high, about 5-10 minutes. Brush with oil if you want to - I think it's overrated - right before you put the meat on.
2) Using the aluminum foil as a "glove", place the patties onto the grill directly over the heat. Do NOT smash them with your spatula. Do NOT keep the lid open, especially on a charcoal grill.
3) Cook for a few minutes, until you see the edges of the patty begin to look cooked, then flip and repeat. Close the lid quickly to avoid flare-ups. If the flare-up won't go away, move the patty off of it. Don't panic, and don't rush.
4) With a minute or so left, apply the cheddar cheese slices to the patties. Close the lid, and if you can, drop the heat a bit. When the cheese becomes somewhat translucent, pull 'em.
1) Have the buns on plates ready for your guests. I recommend mayo, a little mustard, and a little ketchup - it's their call. The bacon should be on the top bun already. If you want, have them line up at the grill to take factory delivery.
2) Put the hot patties on the buns immediately or as soon as possible - they should catch the dripping juices for mad flava.
3) Good side options include home-made french fries (even out of a frozen bag can be good using a domestic deep-fat fryer), seasoned richly with salt; dill or sweet pickles; Samuel Adams Boston Lager.
Summer isn't dead yet. I replaced my "favorite" hamburger recipe with this one after trying it; I challenge you to do the same. Life's too short to eat bad food, so why screw around with store-bough patties or unseasoned pan-fried greyish-brown dog sick?