One of my family’s favorite meals is an old fashioned hamburger. As far back as I can remember, my parents always had burgers on Friday nights.
Handmade, fat and juicy, it’s always a good memory.
The history of the hamburger is greatly debated, but most burger historians agree the sandwich originated in New Haven, Conn., around the turn of the century. Someone was in a hurry for their meal, and is the mother of invention.
Lately, for one reason or another I’ve had more than a few customers come in and ask me what is the best ground beef for a nice juicy burger.
In my opinion, freshly Ground Chuck is the best meat for the job. When we process our ground beef, we hand cut the beef chuck and remove all gristly pieces, then grind twice through a fine plate to get a high quality ground beef.
Good hamburgers must have a good ratio between fat and lean. I recommend an 18-78 fat-to-lean ratio for the best and tastiest hamburger.
Ensure the meat is fresh, and bought from a reputable source, one who grinds their meats multiple times daily and is ground fresh on site. This step is very important to guarantee the freshest and tastiest hamburger.
I recommend using your hands to form your burgers. You should pack them just firm enough to hold together without making them too dense. This will allow the juices to flow through the burger as it is cooking. I also like to indent the center of the burger so the center is a quarter-inch thinner on each side than the rest of the burger; this lets the burger cook evenly.
U.S. Department of Agriculture suggests cooking all ground meat to 160 degrees internal temperature. I like a burger a little less cooked, more on the medium rare side.
When it comes to cooking, there are many different ways: Grilling, barbecuing, frying and even microwave recipes that are good. Remember, no matter which you choose, get a little carmelization on each side, and don’t overcook them. Over cooking makes a dry and tasteless burger.
As for seasoning burgers, old school is just salt and pepper, and there is certainly nothing wrong with this. I use coarse sea salt and really fine pepper to get the best taste.
About 30 years or so, our shop developed some flavored burgers. We started with bacon burgers. While most bacon burgers have the bacon on top like a condiment, we grind the bacon into the ground meat to give it a full bacon flavor, and what’s not better with bacon added? This burger has been a staple in our counter since 1976.
Since then, we have developed other flavored burgers. All these burgers started with a flavor profile, or what we thought might be interesting in a burger.
Some other flavored burgers include onion, jalapeño, bleu cheese, turkey, Tuscan and Battle Mountain.
Burgers can become whatever flavor you like. Start with a good ground meat, add whatever flavors you desire and there you have it. To finish the burger, fresh bakery buns are a must. Lightly toasted and all the fixings with lettuce, tomatoes, onions, mayo, mustard, ketchup and don’t forget the cheese. I love a thick piece of cheddar. My recipe today hopefully will inspire you to make the perfect burger and be creative.
This Saturday at 3rd and Curry Streets Farmers Market I will be sampling my favorite burgers, bacon burgers and Battle Mountain burgers. Come by and check it out.
1 pound freshly ground chuck
1/4 pound pork sausage
1/8 teaspoon sea salt (you can use regular table salt)
1/8 teaspoon onion powder
1/8 teaspoon ground pepper
1 chopped green onion
Combine all ingredients into mixing bowl, and stir together until well mixed
Form into 4 equal sized patties; indent the center of the patties on each side
On a hot grill, cook for 7-8 minutes turning twice. Do not press down as it will remove the juice from the burger (my preference is 145-150 degrees internal temp)
Assemble on a bakery roll toasted, with all the toppings you like and enjoy.
David Theiss is a long time resident of Carson City, and owner of Butler Gourmet Meats.