As we get into the dog days of summer and the prime cookout months I thought I would share some of the most common mistakes people make when cooking up Americas favorite cuisine so you can avoid an unpleasant experience the next time you fire up the grill.
Over working the meat: if you are one of those people who furiously work the ground beef either in your hand or in a mixer, you should stop! This will only make your burgers have a less than desirable texture. Instead if you gently work your patty for about 10 seconds you will achieve the perfect consistency you are looking for in a great burger.
Under seasoning: The secret to great food is simply salt. I couldn’t tell you how many teams at the World Food Championships last year did not season their burgers, but there were a lot. I know it seems like a simple thing to forget but in the end a good blend of salt, pepper, and a dash of garlic powder can elevate even the most mundane burgers.
Making Meatloaf: if you are one of those types that like to throw in onions, peppers, and a slew of other vegetables in your burger meat than you have ceased making burgers and now you are making meatloaf. Nothing against meatloaf, I for one love a great home style meatloaf, but we are talking burgers here. So next time you have a desire to add spicy peppers or caramelized shallots and mushrooms to your burger grind just save it for the toppings.
Over cooking: I believe a majority of people have been brought up and taught to cook the crap out of burgers to kill all the germs that could be lingering in the meat. That is why I am a huge advocate of grinding your own meat. This way you know exactly where that grind came from and more importantly what it looked like before it was turned in to burger meat. From a health standpoint, the reason behind cooking burger meat at the FDA’s recommended 155 degrees (well done) is due to the fact that when meat is ground it is exposed to more potential bacteria where a steak is only exposed on the out side. The is especially the case if the meat is ground in a large factory. So if you get your burgers in mass produced form by all means kill it, but if you want a better gastronomic experience grind your own meat. I like my burgers medium and think that’s a nice happy place for them.
Smash burger: So many people have this innate desire to smash down the patty with the back of the spatula when cooking. This act will ensure you have the driest hockey puck ever. Step away from the grill folks! The steps you should be talking are: form you patties with dimple in the middle, season both sides, place it on a hot clean grill, wait a couple minutes, give it a 45 degree turn, wait another couple minutes, flip gently, wait a couple minutes, turn 45 degrees, wait a couple minutes more and then cheese it. All the juicy love will stay in the burger and your mouth will thank you for it.