Hamburgers are a quintessential American food. There are many versions of this tasty meal, from fast food to gourmet. Homemade burgers are delicious, and they’re actually quite easy to make. Here’s how to make the perfect hamburger:
- Purchase your ingredients. Start with ground beef with 20 to 25% fat. You can use leaner beef, but this will not have as much flavor, because much of the flavor is in the fat. You’ll need to purchase about a quarter pound of pound of beef for each burger you plan to make.
- Prepare the patties. At the very least, season your beef with salt and pepper before forming it into patties. You can also add other spices, cheese, onion or other shredded vegetables to change the flavor. However, some people prefer the taste of plain beef; this will depend on your personal tastes.
- With as little pressure as possible, form the beef into patties. If you want rare burgers, make them thick; for medium, make them thinner. Remember that they will shrink and get a bit thicker as they cook. Do not handle the beef too much, or it will become too dense. The patties do not need to be tightly packed into shape.
- Begin cooking the burgers. While you can, of course, barbecue them, the best hamburgers are done in a skillet. Put 1 to 2 tablespoons of oil in a heavy skillet and heat until it is hot but not smoking. You can also use butter, but this may smoke more, and it is easier to burn the patties. Put the burgers in the oil and cook over fairly high heat for about 3 to 5 minutes, until they’re nicely browned. If you are barbecuing your patties, it should take relatively the same amount of time as in the skillet. Keep in mind that your barbecue will impart a smoky flavor of its own. Whether you use a barbecue or skillet is a personal choice; you should try both to decide which you like best.
- Finish cooking the burgers. Now flip them with a large spatula, and cook for about the same time on the other side. Flip once again, reducing the heat, and cook them for about 2 more minutes on each side (more for well-done burgers, and less for rare burgers). If you want to make cheeseburgers, add a slice of cheese about a minute before the burgers are done, which will be enough time for the cheese to melt. Be careful not to over-cook your burgers, or they will become tough.
- Serve the burgers. You should serve the burgers immediately, while they’re still warm. Don’t forget buns and condiments!
When making hamburgers at home, both the cooking method and the ingredients must be considered. There are many variations of the basic hamburger, and you should experiment until you find the perfect method for your taste.