For far too long, butchers have realized the wonderful profit to be made on prepackaged hamburgers. Ground beef is one of the cheapest meats available. They throw in some seasoning, form them into patties and charge you far more than you should be paying for ground meat.
On top of this, prepackaged burgers are not as fresh, overly processed, frequently frozen, and often contain additives to increase their shelf life. So let’s get on with – how do you make a good homemade burger?
For one, almost nothing is simpler. Purchase ground beef. You probably do not want the leanest selection available at the butcher’s or your hamburgers are going to dry out. I like grabbing the medium ground beef which refers to the fat content (about 20%). Also, look for chuck not meat generally labelled “ground beef” which can come from anywhere on the cattle.
When it comes time to make the hamburger patties. I like to keep it simple. I let the great flavour of the meat speak for itself and then spend my time worrying about toppings and fixings that will help accompany this wonderful staple of the grill. Also, binders (e.g. egg) and fillers (e.g. breadcrumbs) are not needed. Trust me.
With damp hands, take a handful of beef (about 1/3 pound) and using your hands lightly form into a pattie. Do not over-handle, do not over-press. Once you’re satisfied with the shape, use your thumbs to make a slight dimple in the middle of the hamburger. This will keep your hamburgers from swelling up and resembling meatballs instead of patties.
Continue forming the hamburgers and place them on a platter. Once done, season with salt and pepper. That’s it. You’re done. At least for this phase of the game.
When you’re ready to grill your hamburgers, warm your grill up between Medium-High and High. Place the hamburgers on the grill and close it up. We’re going to leave the lid down to (a) keep the heat high to cook the hamburgers and (b) to limit oxygen and thus avoid flareups. If you see a lot of smoke suddenly pouring out, you like have a flare up. Open the grill, move any hamburgers with flames licking at them to another spot and close the grill back up.
We’re going to aim to turn our hamburgers once and once only. They’re going to be ready to turn when you can see browning creeping up towards the top side of the burgers and the top has turned a nice bright red. If you’ve waited long enough, the hamburgers will not stick and will not fall apart when you go to turn them. Depending on your grill, your burgers will probably cook about 4 minutes per side. Do not cut them in half to check doneness, or press them down with your spatula to flatten them, you will lose far too much moisture.
The hamburgers are done when the juice running from it is clear. a small prod to the top of one should allow you to do this test.
The last thing I like to do before removing the burgers from the grill is give them a small hit of flavour boost. A couple drops of Worcestershire, or soy sauce, or a liberal brush with BBQ sauce does nicely.
That’s it, voila! You forgot how simple and delicious homemade hamburgers taste, didn’t you? And you’ll likely never purchase the prepackaged/frozen variety again.