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  • Writer's pictureRhonda Morrison

Make restaurant quality hamburgers at home

Updated: Jun 16, 2020

As a youngun, my family had our favorite burger spots. We sought out the juiciest hamburgers in the Lake Charles area. If a burger did not leave a trail of burger juice running down our arms, we typically did not go back to that restaurant, at least not for hamburgers. I guess you could say we were a Cajun family of burger snobs.

I now have three grown sons that love burgers. They can hork them down one after another. That is not a practical way to dine out and difficult to explain to my Texans. So I invite them over for a hefty helping of burger love.

I look for quality beef to make my burgers at home. I like Angus or grass-fed beef. The cut of meat that is ground can also make a difference. You need a fatty cut to maintain the moisture while cooking. Some people will grind chuck. Others like brisket. I like an 85 percent lean ground meat while some like an 80/20 ratio.

Burger grind is your favorite cut of beef ran through a meat grinder two or three times depending on your liking.

If the ground meat is too lean, you will need other means to keep the meat moist. One way to add moisture in lean ground meat is to mix a little water into the meat before molding the patties. You can rub olive oil over the outside of the patty to help seal in the meat’s natural juices. You can also mix in chopped bacon or shredded cheese. But that may defeat the purpose of using leaner meat.

I buy fresh ground hamburger meat from the butcher counter. Ground beef packaged in tubes come from multiple places in a cow and are typically ground too fine for a spectacular burger. Burger grind from the butcher counter is my choice. Burger grind is your favorite cut of beef ran through a meat grinder two or three times depending on your liking.

I like to separate my burger grind into one-third to one-half pound patties. I gently roll each portion into a ball. I then work my patties into shape by gently squeezing in the middle of the ball between my thumb and fingertips. I rotate the ball clockwise while maintaining a smooth edge on the outside with my other hand. Forming each beef ball into a patty that is slightly thinner in the middle than around the edge. This prevents the patty from returning to a ball shape while cooking. Once my patty is formed, then I add my seasonings helping to maintain the juicy beefiness. Allow the seasoning to rest on the patties for at least an hour before cook time for maximum flavor.

One question I get about burgers is “to grill or not to grill”. I love a flame-kissed burger. However, a hot iron skillet can also produce an amazing burger. When using cast iron, I melt butter in the pan or on the griddle top before searing the burgers to my desired doneness. With either cooking method, I flip patties halfway through cooking when the patty just becomes firm. The lower the internal temperature of the patty, the longer it will take to reach your desired internal temperature. For a rare burger, start with patties straight from the fridge. To achieve a medium to well-done hamburger, let the patties sit covered on the counter to achieve room temperature before cooking. If you are the type that likes to go big, you can finish your cook time in a hot oven after searing.

Now, go gather your favorite burger toppings and make your family the best burger they ever had. Thank you for reading. Please send me an email if you have any questions. Oh, and get the napkins ready!

Restaurant-Style Hamburger

3 lbs. 85/15 hamburger-grind beef

3 tbsp. kosher salt

3 tbsp. black pepper

3 tsp. paprika

2/3 tsp. cumin

8 slices cheddar cheese, optional

Green leaf lettuce

Sliced tomato

Sliced onion, white, Texas yellow, or red

8 fresh buns

Butter or olive oil

Mayonnaise, Hellmann’s or Duke's

Yellow mustard

Separate the beef into 8 equal balls. Shape each ball into a patty by squeezing in the center of the ball with the fingertips and thumb of one hand while turning and shaping the edge with the other hand. Mix seasonings in a bowl. Sprinkle patties with the seasoning one at a time rubbing the seasoning in the patty to set. Heat the grill or skillet to medium-high or high heat. The higher the heat, the quicker the cooking time and rarer center. Prep onions, tomatoes, and lettuce. Preheat oven on broil at 400 degrees and place top oven rack to the second-highest rack position. Prep buns by brushing them with olive oil and placing them on a sheet pan. Brush olive oil or melt butter on the cooking surface. Gently place patties on the cooking surface. Allow patties to cook until just firm enough to flip. For even cooking, allow patties to cook just as long on the second side as on the first side. Add cheddar during the last minute of cook time if desired. Remove patties and allow to rest. Place buns in the oven for 3 to 5 minutes until lightly toasted. Build burgers and serve. When dressing a burger with mustard, apply it to the bottom half of the bun only to prevent the mustard from being the dominant flavor.

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