What can I say about the hamburger that hasn’t already been written yet? Still, I will try to give it some justice. But like trying to describe a sunset, you just have to see one to appreciate it, or in this case, eat one. Even though the Hamburger was said to be invented in the early 13 th century by a small division of Genghis Khan’s Army, called the Mongols, it is an American Icon. Unfortunately, it had little resemblance to what we call a hamburger today.
The more modern hamburger that Americans have become accustomed to has roots back to the 18 th and 19 th century. Ships from the port of Hamburg, Germany brought back recipes from Russia called “tartare steak”. Trying to attract German sailors in New York Harbor, eating stands began offering “steak cooked in the Hamburg style”. The Hamburg steak was born.
On average, Americans eat over 100 hamburgers per person, per year. That is 150 million tons of Hamburger meat every year!! With all that practice of making hamburgers and as simple as they are to construct, you would think that there would be a lot more great tasting burgers in the world. I guess the old adage of, the simplest things are the easiest to mess up, holds true. As with most of life’s great tasting foods, keeping it simple and following a few time honored rules will result in that much sought after culinary nirvana that will make all of your neighbors jealous.
I have put together my “Top Ten List” of Hamburger grilling tips that will give you some insurance that your next backyard burger blowout will be the envy of your friends and neighbors.
Burger Grilling Tips
1. Make sure your grill is the appropriate temperature. Medium heat is best. Too hot and they will burn. Too low and you won’t get that tasty char. Also keeping the lid closed while cooking shortens the cooking time and will help keep the burgers moist.
2. Use beef that is no leaner than 80%. Its no secret that fat keeps hamburgers burgers moist and flavorful. If you’re on a diet, grill a chicken burger, but add olive oil to the mix for flavor and moisture.
3. Be gentle. You can’t “Mike Tyson” a hamburger. Mix ingredients only until thoroughly combined. Overworking the meat causes it to be tough. Also making the patties loose will result in a juicer burger. Remember less is more here.
4. Use chuck and/or brisket for the grind. Chuck and brisket have the best flavor while making for a perfect texture that you can’t beat.
5. Have your butcher grind the meat fresh. Use a butcher you can trust and having them grind it fresh makes the meat safer when cooking a burger medium rare or medium. (You’re not eating well done burgers are you? I hope not.)
6. Don’t form patties to thick or too thin. In my opinion a ½” patty is ideal. It serves as a perfect ratio of crispy exterior to juicy interior. To keep patties from swelling in the middle, make a small indentation in the middle of the patties. I use the bottom of a small water glass for this task. Keep in mind rule #3 while doing this.
7. Always clean and oil the grill grate before and after grilling. I don’t have to explain this, do I?
8. Never ever, ever, ever, ever flatten the burgers with your spatula. It only serves one purpose. That is to squeeze out all of the juices. Create a nice char on one side, flip once and walk away. Just walk away. Resist the temptation. Don’t do it! You will be rewarded
9. Allow burgers to rest. Allowing them to rest on a wire rack before placing on a toasted bun allows for a juicier burger plus your bun doesn’t get all soggy before your ready to eat.
10. Last but not least, Beer. (Sorry Bretton, our resident wine dude)This is my favorite part of grilling burgers. I can’t imagine standing in my back yard, grilling Hamburgers, with out a cold Pacifico Clara or Corona in my hand. Life just does not get any better than this my friends.
Different Hamburger Facts
• The world’s largest Hamburger commercially available is called the “Absolutely Ridiculous Burger” and weighs 185.8 pounds and costs $499.00 and takes 12 hours to prepare. It is on the menu at Mallie’s Sports Grill and Bar in South Gate, Michigan.
• A $777.00 Kobe beef and Maine lobster burger, topped with caramelized onions, Brie cheese and shaved prosciutto is available at Le Burger Brasserie, inside the Paris Las Vegas Casino
• A“$100.00 hamburger” is aviation slang for a private aviation flight for the sole purpose of dining at a non-local airport. It is most often used by pilots who are looking for an excuse just to fly. A $100 dollar hamburger trip usually involves flying a short distance, eating in an airport restaurant and then flying home.
• A quick Google search for “worlds most expensive hamburger” reveals a burger by world renowned chef Hubert Keller called the “Fleur Burger 5000” that costs, you guessed it, $5000.00. It’s loaded with foie gras and truffles and even comes with a bottle of Chateau Petrus 1990. They even give you a certificate to commemorate the fact that you have eaten the world’s most expensive hamburger. That “What was I thinking” feeling that comes the morning after is also included. Won’t all your friends be jealous?
Chef Matthew Nolot – Eddie Merlot’s Fort Wayne