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Posts tagged ‘dartagnan burgers’

5 Ways to Cook a Burger

Our country is burger obsessed. According to Eric Schlosser’s book, Fast Food Nation, American’s eat about 13 billion hamburgers per year while spending over 130 billion dollars on fast food. While we don’t think the burger craze is going away anytime soon, you can take the “junk” out of your food by making more of those burgers at home. Always start with fresh, top-quality, natural ingredients, like our Kobe-Style Wagyu Ground Beef then choose from one of our five favorite cooking methods below, for perfect burgers every time.

Chef’s note: Hamburger patties cook relatively fast so you should have your burger mise en place ready before the meat hits the heat.

Pan-fry it!
Pan-frying is a great method for cooking burgers using minimal time while achieving maximum flavor. A super hot, dry skillet allows the burger to quickly develop a flavorful outer crust without overcooking the interior, keeping the center juicy.

No special equipment is needed, just a shallow fry pan or skillet, large enough to hold all of your patties without crowding and a wide spatula for gentle turning. A spatter screen is recommended but not mandatory.

Start by turning on your exhaust fan then preheat a dry pan over maximum flame until just smoking. The patty should make a sharp sizzle sound when it hits the surface. Now here’s the hard part… don’t touch it! Let the patty develop a nice sear without poking, nudging or squishing! When ready, the burger should be gently turned, just once. After your desired temperature is achieved, gingerly remove the patty and allow it to rest for 5 minutes, right on the bottom bun. The moisture will redistribute evenly throughout the burger and if you do lose any juice, the bun will soak it up.

Smash it!
The smashed burger technique was pioneered in the high-volume greasy-spoons and hamburger stands of the 1920s and 30s. Without having to hand-form patties, smashed burgers saved prep time as several golf-ball sized hunks of ground meat could be thrown onto a flattop griddle at once. Flattening a ball of ground beef on sizzling griddle resulted in a fully caramelized crust over the entire surface area.

To make classic smashed burgers at home, you need a cast-iron or other heavy-duty griddle or an extra-large skillet and a stiff spatula, preferable with a solid surface, not slatted.

Start by turning on your exhaust fan and preheating your griddle. The surface should be nearly smoking and water droplets should dance on the surface. Gently form golf-ball sized hunks of ground beef being careful not to handle it too much then season with coarse salt. Lay the balls gently onto the skillet leaving plenty of space between them. Cook for one minute, then turn the balls over and smash down firmly and evenly with your spatula to create very thin patties. Cook for another minute then flip again, top with cheese if you like and cook for about another minute before sliding onto buns.

Steam it!
Steamed hamburgers are a Northeast regional specialty, served up in luncheonettes and slider shacks since the 1940s. The patties are essentially steamed over a bed of onions on a griddle or cooked vertically in an old-fashioned steamer box. We recommend the former onion-steamed technique for the home cook.

All you need to make soft, steamed burgers or sliders at home is a cast-iron griddle or wide, shallow skillet and a spatula.

Preheat your griddle on medium-high. Place balls of seasoned ground meat onto the griddle and flatten into a patty with your spatula. Place a generous pile of thinly sliced raw onion on top. Cook for about a minute, depending on size. Carefully flip the patty over on top of the onions. Now is the time to add a slice of cheese if desired. Stack the buns on top of the patty, top bun first then bottom bun. This traps steam allowing the patty to cook through and softening the bread. When the burger is done the whole stack is lifted from the griddle and the bottom half of the bun is placed on the bottom of the patty. The result is a burger that despite being completely cooked through is soft, moist and fragrant with onion, on a pillow soft bun.

Broil it!
Broiling is a super easy technique for cooking burgers at home. The intense, direct heat gives the meat a flavorful crust on the outside while sealing in juices. As a bonus, if you use a proper broiling pan, the extra fat will drip away from the meat.

Use of a broiling pan or lipped sheet tray is ideal when broiling hamburgers. Don’t forget the spatula!

Set your oven rack in the top position and preheat your broiler to its highest setting. When forming your patties for broiling (or grilling) it’s important to make a dimple or imprint in the center. When exposed to direct heat not only from below or above but also on its sides, the edges of the patty shrink, cinching the burger and compressing its interior up and out. A simplesmoosh with your fingers remedies this. Next, season your patties, place on the broiling pan. In the oven, the tops of patties should be positioned 3 to 4 inches below the heating elements or flame. Broil for 3 minutes until the top is well browned then flip patties and continue to broil until your burgers reach desired temperature.

Char-Grill it!
A smoky charcoal grilled burger is an American summer staple and heaven for a carnivore. With a little practice, perfect grilled burgers can be yours.

Besides the grill itself, you’ll need charcoal (we recommend natural lump charcoal), vegetable oil for oiling the grate and a metal spatula. A chimney starter, wood chips and meat thermometer are optional items but very useful.

Always start with clean grates. Preheat to high and oil the grates using a folded paper towel held with tongs. A good way gauge if your grill is ready (once your flame has died down and coals have ashed) is to hold your palm about 6 inches above the cooking grate – if you can stand it for no more than 2 seconds, it’s high heat. When forming your patties for the grill, be sure to employ the dimple technique described above. Generously season patties on both sides then place on the grill. Don’t even think about squishing the burgers down or poking at them. Your burger’s juices will end up on the coals not in the patty. Excess fat will drip down during cooking and may cause flare-ups. Covering the grill with the lid for a second or using a spray bottle of water will help. Flip once during cooking and cook to desired doneness – think 2 to 4 minutes per side for medium-rare.

Read Between the Buns!

Ah, burgers! One of our favorite subjects. In honor of our favorite summer meal, we thought we’d give you some of our favorite burger tips, tricks and recipes. Today we’re starting with the basics – perfecting the patty.

No matter which type of meat you start with or how you dare to dress it up, at the heart of every hamburger lies the patty. The best burgers have a fully caramelized crust over the entire patty surface area but are juicy, moist and gently cooked at the center.

When choosing the blend for your burgers, balance of fat is the key. Too lean and your burger will be dry and bland, while the more fat it contains, the more the patty will shrink when cooking. A patty containing 30% fat can shrink by as much as 25%, leaving you with a diminutive dinner. We prefer an 80/20 blend of ground beef for burgers, like in our Kobe-Style Wagyu Ground Beef. 80/20 burgers stay moist and juicy without losing too much volume.

Overworking your ground beef will put you on the fast track to dry, dense burgers. When forming patties, it’s a good idea to wet or oil your hands slightly to keep the meat from sticking to your fingers and ensure you’re handling it as little as possible. Separate the beef into portions sizes then gently but quickly form into patty shapes about ½ – ¾ inch uniform thickness, and about ½ inch larger than the diameter of your bun to allow for some shrinkage. Intense, direct heat cooking like grilling or broiling will cause patties to seize up and bulge in the center. To prevent this, gently make dimple (about 1½ inches in dia.) in the middle of each patty before cooking.

We think the quality and flavor of the meat should be the star so we like to keep the seasoning simple. A generous sprinkling of coarse kosher salt and a few turns of cracked black pepper are all you need but if you want to spice it up, a generous pinch of Porcini Powder or piment d’Espelette will give an extra layer of flavor without overpowering. Always season after the patties are formed, right before cooking to prevent the salt from drying the meat out.

There are many ways to cook a burger, but no matter which method you choose, there are a few simple rules to ensure the best results. The first rule is: don’t touch it! Once you’ve gently placed your patty on the cooking surface leave it alone so the meat has time to develop the crust. If you try to turn it too early the burger will stick or fall apart. The secret is to flip the burger the second it releases from the surface. Next, turn the patty only once and never press on the patty with the spatula. Pressing will force juices out, resulting in a dry burger. Finally, don’t poke or cut into the patty to check for doneness. Piercing the crust before the meat has rested will result in all of the delicious juices running out. And there will be residual cooking even after you’ve removed it from the heat.

As with all meats, when using direct heat cooking methods, your hamburger patties will need to rest after cooking for the juices to redistribute evenly. Gently remove them from the heat source and allow them to rest for a few minutes on a clean cutting board or platter. Remember to never use the same surface that came into contact with the raw meat to avoid cross-contamination.