Thursday, March 26, 2015

In search of the perfect cheeseburger

Note: Edited to add a couple things I forgot.

The perfect cheeseburger has always eluded me. This is particularly frustrating because cheeseburgers happen to be one of my husband's favorite foods. I've tried the grill thing, both charcoal and gas, and always seemed to end up with burned on the outside and dry, dry, dry on the inside. Tried cooking them less, and ended up with red on the inside, which is a no-no for me. Just can't do the rare thing. After years of trying, I had pretty much given up and left the cheeseburger eating to those rare nights when we ate out.

Fast forward to our cruising days. That would be our budget cruising days, the ones that include even much rarer eating out, and cheeseburgers were being missed. One day I spent a few hours on the settee determinedly perusing the internet in search of the perfect cheeseburger recipe that would yield the heretofore unrealized juicy, fragrant, flavorful culinary delight of beef, cheese, and bun. After reading a dozen sets of instructions, I pooled the  most sensible of the ideas, got out my meat and gave it a try. To say that my husband was pleased would be an understatement. It was, in fact, something akin to an orgasm, I believe. So perfect were the results, that we now have cheeseburgers almost once a week. So it is with great fanfare that I present to you, The Perfect Cheeseburger.

Before you even start, know that this recipe takes time. Do not rush it, because if you do, you will not get the results you are looking for. Here are the steps.

1. Start with ground chuck in the 80/20 meat to fat ratio. If you use lean ground beef you will not end up with a juicy hamburger. Don't compromise on this step.

2. Break the meat up into chunks with two forks. You can do this right in the store foam tray.

3. Season the beef very well. I use salt, pepper, garlic salt, and just a touch of barbecue seasoning. Do not be shy about the seasoning, especially the salt. You will find you need more than you usually think you do. Just sprinkle the seasoning on the top of the chunks but do not stir it in.

4. Walk away. Far away. L et the meat stand 30-45 minutes or longer with the seasoning on it and don't touch it, no matter how tempted you are.

5. Preheat your skillet over medium high heat while you form the patties. Don't grill them. Use a skillet. Juicy, flavorful hamburgers depend on frying in their own fat to absorb the moisture and flavor. If you're on a diet, skip this post.

6. Gently form the meat into patties being careful not to overwork it. It should just barely be held together. Poke five or six holes in the patty with your finger, then place in the preheated skillet. Put the patty where you want it because you cannot move it once you set it in the pan.

7. Reduce the heat to medium low and allow the patties to cook until the edges begin to turn brown but the top is still pink.

8. Turn the patties over gently. Reduce the heat to low and cover the pan. Let the patties cook for a few minutes until the juice running out is clear.

9. Slap some cheese on those babies, cover the pan, and then turn the heat off. Continue preparing your side dishes while the burgers sit.

10. By the time your side dishes are done, the burgers will be too. If your cheese is very soft you may want to wait to put it on the burgers until the last minute.

Experiment with seasonings and your stove temperature. It may take a few tries to get it exactly the way you like it, but believe me when I say it is worth the effort!