Burgers are a long-time classic food. They’ve been done many different ways, and everyone has their own preferences. But there are some ways to ensure that your burger is the best it can be. Here are some of them.
Don’t Fear Fat
Set aside the lean ground beef and embrace a package with a higher fat content. A 20-25% ratio is probably your best bet. And if you can manage it, skip the pre-ground supermarket beef and have a chuck steak ground for you. Ask for a course grind, as this will help you avoid any mealy texture in your patty.
Of course, all things are best in moderation, and that includes fat. So there is a limit to the amount of fat you’ll want–30% or higher and you’re probably going to find that your burger shrinks too much. If you really want a higher fat content in the finished burger, slather butter on your bun and add cheese to the patty. (Place the cheese on the beef as soon as it’s been flipped to make sure it melts sufficiently.)
Don’t Overwhelm the Meat
Seasonings, condiments, cheese and other toppings, the bun–all of these are classic and welcome additions to the main star, but they should never be overwhelming. The bun size needs to suit the size of the burger itself, and the seasonings and condiments should complement the flavor of your beefy patty, rather than overwhelming it or stealing the show.
Use A Cast Iron Skillet
Have you always assumed that the best burgers are those which are made on the grill? Surprisingly, that’s not actually true. While grilling can certainly give us some incredible burgers, many cooks actually prefer using a cast iron skillet and believe it offers a far superior burger.
The reason? Allowing the burger to cook in its own fat gives it more flavor and juiciness. The grease from the meat is the perfect cooking agent. And really, cooking on a skillet is easier, anyway. If you really love to cook outside, set the skillet on your grill–otherwise, feel free to stay inside in the air conditioning.
Thick and Juicy? Or Thin and Crispy?
Do you prefer a thick, juicy patty? Or is your preference a thinner burger with crispy edges? The choice in entirely up to you, but different thicknesses do require slightly different treatment.
For a thin patty, place a small portion of meat (about the size of a golf ball) on your hot skillet. “To avoid the urge to shape it with your hands, portion out the meat with a cookie dough scoop,” said Shula Burger. Then, use a heavy-duty spatula to smash it into a patty the size of your bun. For a thick burger, shape your meat without packing it too tightly or handling the meat any more than possible–it really isn’t necessary.
While thick burgers typically do have more meat than their thin burger counterparts, it’s also possible to stack two thin patties if you love crispy edges but don’t want to skimp on beef. It’s also wise to remember not to make those plump patties too thick–doing so can easily lead to an undercooked or even raw center.
Keep Trying New Things
Sometimes the biggest obstacle to making your burger better isn’t bad techniques or ingredients–it’s just a lack of new options and ideas. If you feel that you’re stuck in a burger rut, take some time to research other people’s creations and recipes to get inspiration for your burgers. This doesn’t mean you have to give up on your old standby favorites–just don’t limit yourself to a single variety or type of burger.
Switch up your standard bun for a potato roll or an English muffin. Stir bacon chunks or other additions into your beef before cooking. Try new condiments and toppings, and have fun with the process.