Quest: Build A Better Burger

Build a better burger and the world will beat a path to your door. 

No, really! 

Look at all the gourmet burger joints popping up all across the country, even the world. These places go beyond the fast food drive-through. They offer special spices, high quality beef, bakery buns and toppings, toppings, toppings. These burgers offer higher quality than you might normally make at home. That’s the whole point: a burger so good you’ll leave your house for them. 

It’s easy to make a hamburger, fry it or grill it, slap a piece of cheese on it, put it on a bun, add a few condiments and that’s it. Right? 

Well, certainly that would work. But you can make it even better. You can make YOUR burger. The amount of added effort is minimal, but that extra effort will be rewarded when you sit down to eat. 

First, here’s the equipment you need. 

  1. A skillet that can take high heat. We recommend a cast-iron one if you have it. Do not use a non-stick skillet if you can avoid it. Those are great for eggs, but this is meat. 
  2. Mixing bowl, into which you will put your ground beef and then add a few things. 
  3. A smaller bowl with a whisk. 
  4. A spatula
  5. A food scale.
  6. An egg ring, large round cookie-cutter or wide-mouth jar or glass.

That last item might raise an eyebrow. This will be used to help shape the burger so you don’t get those ragged, broken edges. Also, you can replace the skillet with a grill if you like. Also, this is an easy recipe to scale for larger crowds. If just for one or two, freeze the extra patties.

As for ingredients, you will need:

  1. 1 pound ground beef. We recommend an 80/20 mix of lean and fat. Do not use very lean beef, it will dry out and maybe even burn.
  2. 1 egg
  3. 1/2 teaspoon salt
  4. 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  5. 1/2 cup finely ground bread crumbs. We don’t like the sawdust-like stuff in the store and use Panko instead. It still works.
  6. Low sodium Worcestershire sauce.

You will also need some hamburger buns and your favorite cheese in slices. The amounts above will make about 4 to 6 patties, depending on size. 

The Instructions 

  1. Get your cooking surface hot. If it’s a grill, you want it hot and oiled. Inside put your skillet on low heat. Raise the heat to medium-high when you are ready to cook. 
  2. Put the ground beef and bread crumbs into the large bowl. Use your clean hands to mix it up until bread crumbs are evenly distributed through the meat. 
  3. In the smaller bowl, whisk the egg, salt, pepper and any other seasonings you like. Go easy on the salt in favor of some herbs. This is where you can get creative. Want Italian burgers, add dried oregano, dried basil, ground rosemary. Herb du Provence will give you a French burger. You can also get creative in the condiments on the table. When well mixed, add to beef mixture in the larger bowl. Do not add the Worcestershire sauce. You’ll use that when you cook them.
  4. Again, use your hands to mix everything together. Make a small ball, like golfball size, and weigh it. You want around a half-pound. Then line the balls up on wax paper on your counter. Repeat until all the meat is used.
  5. This is where the egg ring comes in. Using the wax paper as a base, use the ring as a mold. Make sure the meat is evenly distributed around the edge, and that the edge is not crumbling. They should be thick, at least a half-inch. Then make a depression in the middle of the patty while still in the mold. That keeps the burger from making a dome when it cooks. This should make about 4 to 6 burgers.
  6. Put the patties on the grill or in the pan. Cover them and cook about 6 minutes on each side. After putting the patties on the heat, prepare to toast your buns. We prefer using a griddle pan for this. Heat the griddle to medium-low and then toast the buns on both sides of each piece. 
  7. When the burgers are cooked, put a slice of cheese on top of each and turn off the heat. After the cheese is melted, move each patty to a bun, top with your favorite condiments and you are ready to eat. 

Pair this with fried potatoes, chips or potato salad. 

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