Monday, February 2, 2015

Enlightenment


I have spent 20 plus years thinking that I needed to add extra stuff to my hamburger meat to make it better.  Sure, I've heard all you need is salt and pepper.  But how could that be any good?  We all (well, a lot of us) have spent so much time adding in stuff and making almost meatloaf-like burger patties.  And have we been satisfied?  I haven't.  The burgers are usually too thick, dry, and dense.  

So I was on Facebook the other day, and I saw a link to Buzzfeed that was titled, "11 Burger Mistakes Everyone Makes."  I haven't made burgers in a long time because, frankly, I have been disappointed.  Some of the mistakes they cited I already knew and used.  But the one that really really got me thinking was the seasoning.  Only salt & pepper.  And only right before you cook it.  The reasoning made a lot of sense.  Salting the beef ahead of time draws out the moisture.  Big rounded patties can be alleviated by making an indention in the center of the patty.  Pressing a patty down with a spatula pushes the juices out. Overworking the meat makes it tough. Click here if you'd like to read the post.  (I'm not getting paid to plug them.  I just thought I'd share.)

Anywho, I thought we'd try it.  I cooked my burgers in a frying pan since it was very cold out, but the same principles apply for grilling.  The pan/grill needs to be very hot.  Only salt & pepper the side going down on the pan/grill first, which is supposed to be the non-indented side.  You only season the top side right before you flip it.  I was very skeptical.  I thought, this burger isn't going to have any flavor.  I WAS WRONG!  It was the best darn homemade burger I've ever had.  In fact, we are making burgers again tonight since they were so good.

So here is my Western Burger.  It's a bacon cheeseburger with BBQ mayo, crispy onion strings, avocado slices, and butter lettuce.  And no meatloaf patties.  If you have always mixed in a bunch of stuff, I hope you'll try this.  

WESTERN BURGERS
FOR THE BURGERS:
1 lb 80/20 ground beef
Salt & pepper, to taste
6 hamburger buns
Cooked bacon slices (as much or as little as you like)
Sliced cheese, any flavor (as much or as little as you like)
Butter lettuce
Crispy onion strings (recipe to follow)
BBQ Mayo (recipe to follow)

FOR THE CRISPY ONIONS:
1 onion, very thinly sliced
1 1/2 C buttermilk
1 1/2 C flour
3 teaspoons paprika
3 teaspoons onion powder
3 teaspoons garlic powder
Seasoned salt, to taste (like Lawry's)
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Peanut oil, for frying

FOR THE BBQ MAYO:
1/2 C mayonnaise
1/2 C Chipotle BBQ Sauce (click for my recipe)

NOTE:  If you prefer to grill the burgers, you can follow the same method except over a grill.  Remember to salt & pepper only the side going down first and only salt & pepper the other side right before you flip it.  And remember not to press the patties down.  Grill to your desired doneness.  I would suggest 4 minutes per side and then an additional minute to melt the cheese.

If you are making my BBQ sauce recipe, cook it first and let it cool.  Then mix together the BBQ sauce and the mayo and chill it until you are ready to use it.

For the crispy onion strings, soak the onion slices in the buttermilk for about 5-10 minutes.  Mix together the flour, paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, cayenne, and Lawry's to taste.  Preheat some peanut oil in a skillet.  Dredge the onion strings in the flour and cook in batches for about 30 seconds to 1 minute or until lightly browned.  Drain them on a paper towel and set aside.

Divide the hamburger meat into six balls.  Flatten each ball out to about 1/4 inch patties, making sure they are wide enough to fit the bun.  Put an indention with your thumb into the center of each patty.  Preheat a large skillet to medium high heat.  Season the non-indented side of each patty generously with salt and pepper.  Place the seasoned side down in the pan.  Cook without disturbing them for 4 minutes. Season the top side generously with salt and pepper and flip them.  Cook an additional 4 minutes without disturbing them. They should be ready for cheese at this point.  If you are unsure if they are done to your liking, use a meat thermometer in the center to determine if they are done.  Add cheese slices to the patties and cover and cook for about 30 seconds to a minute to melt the cheese.

Assemble the burgers by placing some lettuce, burger patty, BBQ mayo, crispy onion strings, bacon, and avocado slices on the buns.

Adapted from Le Creme de la Crumb

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