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Anyone here make great hamburgers from scratch?

 
 
Reply Thu 25 Jun, 2009 01:35 pm
A buddy of mine has been on a cooking kick, we've eaten at all the restaurants in town and have been trying to vary our eats by making our own food sometimes.

Between the two of us we have some nifty dishes down, but we haven't mastered the simple hamburger. Buying pre-made paddies here are so thin that they don't beat even fast-food quality, and the whole point of our cooking is so we can have better food than eating out.

So we are looking for someone who really knows what they are talking about. I could google recipes as well as anyone so that's not what I'm looking for, I'm looking for real experience at making a great hamburger.

So anyone out there have any secrets to share? Do I really need to make it with eggs and all to get a solid paddy that doesn't crumble?
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Type: Question • Score: 23 • Views: 9,495 • Replies: 88
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boomerang
 
  1  
Reply Thu 25 Jun, 2009 01:49 pm
When I cook them inside I use the Julia Child method of frying them in a little bit of butter. That's pretty good.

I think the real trick is to not handle to meat too much and don't get that extra lean stuff. You don't get perfect looking pattys but they a bit jucier. Just pat it into shape and then stick the patty in the fridge for an hour or so before cooking -- it shouldn't crumble if you do that.
roger
 
  1  
Reply Thu 25 Jun, 2009 01:54 pm
@boomerang,
Not roger. I get a 5 pound package of 90% lean and make it into patties all at once. About 50z each, and press them out more or less flat after putting them into ziplock sandwich bags. Then freeze them. Nothing added; just the beef. Thaw them in warm water and cook thouroughly over a low flame, turning often. They don't crumble, and they are not red on the inside.
Rockhead
 
  1  
Reply Thu 25 Jun, 2009 02:00 pm
@Robert Gentel,
how do you plan on cooking them?
rosborne979
 
  1  
Reply Thu 25 Jun, 2009 02:02 pm
@Robert Gentel,
I'm usually too lazy to do anything fancy, but my buddy (the chef) told me that most things that you like *on* your burger can also go *in* your burger when you mix the ground beef.

For example, if you like A1 Steak Sauce and Dijon mustard, you can mix the ground beef with that. And you can add onion flakes, pepper, garlic, whatever.

He also suggested getting different ground meats and mixing them together for the patty. I always liked 3parts ground beef to 1part ground sausage, then add a bit of Worcestichire sauce, Dijon, horseradish and garlic. But it really all depends on what you like personally.


Robert Gentel
 
  1  
Reply Thu 25 Jun, 2009 02:08 pm
@boomerang,
boomerang wrote:
When I cook them inside I use the Julia Child method of frying them in a little bit of butter. That's pretty good.


Is that just for taste? Or does it affect consistency?

Quote:
I think the real trick is to not handle to meat too much and don't get that extra lean stuff. You don't get perfect looking pattys but they a bit jucier. Just pat it into shape and then stick the patty in the fridge for an hour or so before cooking -- it shouldn't crumble if you do that.


Sorry if I come across as mentally challenged on this, but I don't cook much and I don't understand if the lean concern is consistency or taste either (it seems like it's a taste thing and bad for consistency but I don't trust my read) and am not quite sure if my understanding that fridge helps consistency is correct.

I don't get it, help a kitchen-idiot out!
Robert Gentel
 
  1  
Reply Thu 25 Jun, 2009 02:09 pm
@roger,
So the freezing for consistency right? And how thick are you making these things?
Robert Gentel
 
  1  
Reply Thu 25 Jun, 2009 02:10 pm
@Rockhead,
Rockhead wrote:
how do you plan on cooking them?


With heat? Seriously, that's part of the question. I've got a stove and a foreman grill at my disposal. BBQ at another friend's house is an option.

What's best?
Robert Gentel
 
  1  
Reply Thu 25 Jun, 2009 02:13 pm
@rosborne979,
rosborne979 wrote:
I'm usually too lazy to do anything fancy, but my buddy (the chef) told me that most things that you like *on* your burger can also go *in* your burger when you mix the ground beef.


This is actually another part I want help with. I like bread, cheese, onion and tomato on a burger and I don't think those will help the patty much.

In the past I've tried onions in the patty but that really made the consistency part more difficult.

I'm usually pretty simple and onion and garlic are my best friends in the kitchen so we were considering onion powder and garlic powder due to the consistency problem.

Quote:
He also suggested getting different ground meats and mixing them together for the patty. I always liked 3parts ground beef to 1part ground sausage, then add a bit of Worcestichire sauce, Dijon, horseradish and garlic. But it really all depends on what you like personally.


I hadn't thought of different meats, that's a good idea. I do a mix of ground beef and Italian sausage for my spaghetti sauce and really like it and I bet it works for burgers too. Thanks!
Rockhead
 
  1  
Reply Thu 25 Jun, 2009 02:15 pm
@Robert Gentel,
I prefer them over a flame, but cook 20+ a day on a flat griddle.

fresh meat that has not been frozen is easiest to work with, and seasonings can be worked through the meat.

At work, I season on the grill with a mix of salt, pepper and garlic powder.

we patty every afternoon, 5oz, about a half inch thick.

for flame broiling, I prefer a spicier seasoning seared in on the first flips.

no eggs or fillers necessary.
roger
 
  1  
Reply Thu 25 Jun, 2009 02:18 pm
@Robert Gentel,
Roughly 5/8 thick, and the freezing is just for preservation. Around here, lean ground beef is a bit over $4.00 at the supermarket. The bulky packages at Sam's is 2.98 per pound. Still, the whole process yields a burger to my taste.

Spinns, in Albuquerque, makes a great burger. They advertise their meat has never been frozen, so I won't promote the freezing as especially beneficial. As I say, mine don't crumble, but that may be due to the cooking. The skillet is quite hot before putting in the meat, and I don't reduce the fire till I've turned it once. I'll turn it several times, trying to get it cooked all the way through, without charring the outside too badly.
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Thu 25 Jun, 2009 02:25 pm
@Robert Gentel,
A smart cook I used to know said buy good meat, put only salt on the frying pan, cook to 'taste' re doneness.

I still follow that, buying good beef from the butcher with at least 15% fat in it, for the taste, and now I occasionally use sea salt instead of regular because I kind of like the larger salt granules. I prefer somewhere between medium rare to rare.
I've not ever worried about refrigerating the patties I've made, assuming I cook them right away and don't leave the meat out to spoil. Don't remember any problem with crumbling. Oh, and my patties are thick, maybe 3/4" thick.

The only time I'll use eggs or anything else is when I'm making meatloaf - which I consider a whole different animal from a burger.

The biggest problem with burgers, to me, are the buns. Regular store hamburger buns seem to taste/hold together worse these days, and I always have my eye out for a sturdier more flavorful bun or roll.
rosborne979
 
  2  
Reply Thu 25 Jun, 2009 02:28 pm
@Robert Gentel,
Robert Gentel wrote:

I'm usually pretty simple and onion and garlic are my best friends in the kitchen so we were considering onion powder and garlic powder due to the consistency problem.

If crumbling patties are your main problem, then you basically want to increase the oil/fat proportion of the burger. It's the fat which holds the patty together. You can either buy ground beef (or other meat) which has a higher fat content (non-lean), or you can add fat/oil/liquid yourself. Some people put olive oil in the beef when mixing, some add butter or bacon/grease. Some people even add a bit of water, but I haven't tried that. In general, the problem that causes crumbling burgers is not having enough fat or oil in them.
dyslexia
 
  1  
Reply Thu 25 Jun, 2009 02:34 pm
@roger,
roger is a g-damn liar, he likes his burgers turned into charcoal. he might just as well buy soyburgers.
a real eatable burger is 80% lean and just slightly brown on the outside, totally red on the inside.
rosborne979
 
  1  
Reply Thu 25 Jun, 2009 02:34 pm
@Robert Gentel,
Here's another thing to understand. When you cook meat, the more slowly you cook it, the more uniformly it will cook through. So for example, if you want a burger that's really dark and somewhat crunchy on the outside, but still red on the inside, then you cook it on high heat quickly. If you want it cooked all the way through, but not toasty on the outside, then you cook it slowly on low heat.

I find grilling to be the most versatile way to cook burgers because you can cook them over open flame on the front of the grill, and them move them toward the back as you get them the way you (or your friends) like them. Also, the grill allows the grease to flow away from the burger (and burn) so you get an additional flavor from the superheated grease which spatters back up onto the burgers. It's different from frying them.
rosborne979
 
  1  
Reply Thu 25 Jun, 2009 02:36 pm
@Robert Gentel,
Robert Gentel wrote:
I hadn't thought of different meats, that's a good idea. I do a mix of ground beef and Italian sausage for my spaghetti sauce and really like it and I bet it works for burgers too. Thanks!

Get a nice pork sausage and mix that in with the ground beef. It's got a high fat content and it's pre-spiced. I bet that would be good.

Now you've got me wanting a decent burger, and all I have are my lazy-man's pre-made patties.
0 Replies
 
sozobe
 
  2  
Reply Thu 25 Jun, 2009 02:39 pm
@Robert Gentel,
I'm a kitchen idiot myself, slowly coming around, so I get your confusion. I went through the same thing re: burgers and fat.

My understanding is that you want a higher-fat patty both for consistency in the sense of holding together (as rosborne said) but also for juiciness. A leaner meat will make for a drier patty, especially if you want to cook it all the way through.
Robert Gentel
 
  1  
Reply Thu 25 Jun, 2009 02:41 pm
@Rockhead,
Thanks, I think I must start with a pan. Consistency matters even more on a flame I bet.
0 Replies
 
Robert Gentel
 
  1  
Reply Thu 25 Jun, 2009 02:43 pm
@roger,
Thanks, after Boomer talked of using a fridge and after noticing that the only home-made burgers I ever got to stick were the per-made frozen paddies I thought that maybe the freezing kept them together. You know, what with it being more of a solid and all.
0 Replies
 
panzade
 
  1  
Reply Thu 25 Jun, 2009 02:45 pm
@sozobe,
making notes...making lists
0 Replies
 
 

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