TITLE: Zen Burgers
DATE: 5/11/2008 03:27:00 PM
Over the years, I have experimented with all the different factors that make a good burger: the fat content of the meat, how the patties are formed, how they are seasoned and grilled.
People often choose a higher fat content because it keeps the burgers juicy. I don't say this often, but I prefer the taste of the leaner ground beef (93% lean). If the burgers are cooked properly (see below for Zen cooking techniques) juiciness is not a problem.
When it comes to forming the patties, focus on your "inner-Zen." Gingerly form the patties, handling the meat as little as possible to achieve the desired shape. The more you work the meat, the tougher the burger. Some people do like a "chewier" burger. In taste tastes with clients, about 1 in 4 prefer this. To further complicate matters, over-working burgers causes the patties to bulge in the center when cooked. Many chefs have tried to alleviate the bulge as the patty does not sit well on the bun. Some choose to squish the burger on the grill, squeezing out all the juice and flavor. Others follow the advice from Cooks Illustrated: form the patty into a donut shape. This way, when the patty bulges, it creates a flat patty.
I prefer a simple salt and pepper seasoning. Some people like to stick a pat of butter in the center, I feel this is gratuitous.
You must reach for your inner Zen, and fight all samurai instincts when it comes to cooking the burger. Place the burger on the hot side of the grill. Flip it only once. Do not smash it. In addition to getting rid of the bulge (see above note), some people think that smashing will make the burger cook faster. In fact, this just smashes all the juices out of the burger. Flipping often is thought to cook the burger more evenly, however, every time you flip the burger, you lose more juices. To cook the burger evenly, move it to a warm (not hot) spot on the grill and close the lid.
DATE:5/27/2009 09:34:00 AM
You certainly enhance the appeal of your burgers by calling them Zen burgers. I missed this last year when first posted.