A contest is held in California’s Napa Valley every year about this time to “Build a Better Burger.” Contestants creatively cook a wide variety of “burgers” containing everything from pickled saffron pears and green curry to Spanish chorizo, pork, lamb and even Spam. While I enjoy sampling all the unusual toppings, oddly shaped burger buns and mind-boggling flavor combinations, sometimes I just want a classic, allbeef hamburger.
Ground chuck is the meat of choice for most hamburger purists. The preferred combination is 80 percent lean meat to 20 percent fat. The fat makes the burgers moist and flavorful. If the fat content is too low, your hamburger patty will dry out during the cooking process.
Combining ground chuck with other ground meats adds a delicious combination of juiciness and flavor to your burger. The top choice for making the ultimate hamburger patty is to combine ground chuck with ground sirloin. Try this great recipe to make a classic American burger!
1 pound ground chuck (80/20 blend) or a combination of chuck and sirloin
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly
ground black pepper
1 teaspoon onion powder 1 teaspoon garlic powder
1. Heat a large skillet to medium hot. The pan is at the proper temperature when a drop of water dances on its surface.
2. Place the Worcestershire sauce in a mediumsize bowl. Gently press the ground meat into the liquid and turn and fold it over once or twice to combine. (Remember, the more you handle the meat, the softer it will become, and the more likely it will be to fall apart when you cook it.) Wet your hands to keep the meat from sticking.
3. Divide the meat into 4 equal portions. Hold one portion of the ground meat in the palm of your hand, gently turning and shaping the meat into a patty that is tightly compact and uniform in size. The patty should be a little larger or about the same size as your hamburger bun.
4. Lightly press three fingers into the center of the patty, making a slight, dimple indention in the center and pushing the meat to the outer edges. (Making it thinner in the middle and thicker around the edges will allow the patty to cook evenly. As hamburger patties cook, they shrink in size. As they shrink, the edges tend to break apart, causing deep cracks to form. To combat this, you want the burger patty to be thinner in the middle than around the edges.) Season the patties on both sides with salt, pepper, onion and garlic powder.
5. Place the hamburger patties into the hot skillet. For a rare burger, cook 4 to 5 minutes on the first side, turn the patties and cook for an additional 4 to 5 minutes; for a medium burger, cook 7 to 8 minutes per side; for well-done burger, cook 8 to 10 minutes per side.
6. If desired, place a slice of cheese on each burger during the final minute of cooking. When the cheese has melted, remove the burgers to a plate.
7. Rub the skillet with a folded paper towel to clean it. Place the hamburger buns, cut side down, in the skillet for about 1 minute to toast them. Serve the hamburger patties in the buns with your favorite condiments and vegetables.
Angela Shelf Medearis is an award-winning children’s author, culinary historian and the author of five cookbooks. Her new cookbook is “The New African- American Kitchen.” She is known as The Kitchen Diva and is the executive producer and host of “The Kitchen Diva!” television cooking show. Visit her Web site at www.divapro.com.
©2016 King Features Synd., Inc.