Friday, June 24, 2011

All I want is a simple cheeseburger.

Sesame seed bun toasted, ketchup (sometimes a little mayo), crisp lettuce, American cheese and a perfectly cooked burger.  Or if I’m in the mood for something a little different: Swiss cheese, mustard with horseradish and lettuce.  Nothing complicated or haute cuisine about it; just a simple cheeseburger.  Since I form my own burgers, the weight is usually between ¼ and ½ lb and ½” thick; the meat is 90% lean, so I don’t have a lot of shrinkage as it cooks.  I hate, absolutely hate when a restaurant advertises ¼ lb burgers or ½ burgers and in small print it then says, “Weight prior to cooking”.  Excuse me!?!  How much weight exactly will it be after cooking?  If the fat content in the ground meat is high, the burger will be much, much smaller; if you’re offering me a ½ pounder, that better be what I get for my money!!!  The idea of adding more meat to the mix to offset the shrinkage is a completely foreign idea it seems.
When cooking the burgers, I only season with salt and pepper; what someone adds on afterwards is up to the individual.  I want to taste the beef most of all, so avoid masking it as much as possible with seasonings, sauces or condiments cooked in beforehand.
Cooking technique varies on time on hand, quantity being cooked, and/or weather conditions.  When it’s just hubby and myself; the gas grill works just fine when the weather is good outside.  I’ve barbequed in the winter, so long as it wasn’t snowing, sleeting or very windy.  If there are a lot of folks, the charcoal grill comes out of hibernation.  With either grill, I cook both sides of the burger for about 4-5 minutes; using an instant read thermometer to make sure the internal temperature reaches 160F.  I oil up the grill to avoid having the burger stick, have the heat temp at medium-high, and don’t play with the burger while it cooks.  All that poking and prodding is what makes it start to stick and/or fall apart.  When the weather is lousy, or I’m just cooking up a burger for myself; then it’s roasted in the oven (400F for 20 minutes).  Simple and uncomplicated, just the way I enjoy cooking in general.
Unfortunately my kitchen is too small for the stove I really wanted: 4 gas burners with a grill in the center.  Then I could have grilled indoors no matter how lousy the weather.  I keep hoping to win one of those redoing your home contests; or that HGTV just happens to pick my home for a remodel, but no such luck.  Is it so much to ask for a fabulous kitchen?

Anyway, when it comes to burgers, it’s the burger that should take center stage, not the accessories you pile on top of it.   
Mary Cokenour