The Perfect Burger {Recipe}

If a picture is worth a thousand words, need I say  more than this?

After watching an episode of Good Eats, I was convinced that I needed to buy a cast iron griddle and grind my own hamburger. And, boy, am I glad I did.

This, my friends, is the best hamburger you’ve ever tasted. Made right in your own kitchen. No pink slime; no mystery meat; and no seasonings other than Kosher salt.

The Perfect Burger (based on recipe by Alton Brown)

Ingredients

  • 12 ounces chuck
  • 12 ounces sirloin
  • 3/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 4 hamburger buns
  • mayonnaise
  • freshly ground black pepper

Directions

  1. Lightly oil cast iron griddle. Preheat griddle over medium-high heat.
  2. Trim chuck of excess fat and cut into 1- to 2-inch cubes. Place chuck in food processor and pulse 10 times in 1-second intervals. Scrape meat into large bowl.
  3. Repeat with sirloin, adding to bowl with chuck after grinding.
  4. Add salt to meat and mix well with clean hands by lifting the meat from underneath and turning it over, being careful not to squish or compress meat.
  5. Shape meat into 5- to 5 1/2-ounce patties by forming into balls, tossing gently back and forth from hand to hand, then shaping each patty gently, again without pressing meat very much.
  6. Place patties on preheated griddle pan and cook for 4 minutes on each side for medium-rare or 5 minutes per side for medium, turning only once during cooking and resisting the urge to press down on the patties while they cook. (This is not a diner, and your name’s not Mel. Pressing the patties while they cook only serves to squish out all the delicious juiciness. Also, because the meat is freshly ground and not full of who-knows-what, the patties do not need to be cooked beyond medium.)
  7. While the patties are cooking, prepare hamburger buns by spreading the bottom bun with mayonnaise and topping with a bit of freshly cracked black pepper. The juices from the burger will mix with the mayo and pepper to make the most delicious “sauce” you can imagine.
  8. When the burgers are done cooking, place on buns, adorn with desired toppings, and enjoy.

Makes 4 burgers

The first time I made these, I didn’t add any toppings, as I wanted to taste them unadorned with just the mayo, pepper, and burger “sauce”. I can’t describe how good it was this way. Juicy, tender, and oh-so-meaty tasting.

I think what sets this recipe apart from any other burger I’ve tried is the “meatiness” of it. The freshly ground beef, the lack of overpowering seasonings, and the minimal toppings all let the meat flavor shine through.

Give it a try. It’s easier than you think to create the most flavorful, meaty burger you’ve ever had. But be warned: you may never be able to go back to store-bought ground beef again.

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Empanadas {Bake!}

We owe last night’s dinner — or at least the inspiration for it — to my friend, Marthe Teunis. No, she didn’t fly to Ohio from The Netherlands to cook for us (but how cool would that have been?). But she did choose empanadas from Bake! for our next group baking recipe.

For some reason this recipe took me forever to get around to making. I bought the ingredients, put them away, got them back out, and on and on. I made the puff pastry with Nick’s amazingly simple and delicious recipe (also in Bake! — you really should get this book) two weeks ago and put it in the freezer when I realized I wasn’t going to get around to making the empanadas that weekend. Then last week I made the chicken picadillo filling and again ended up putting it in the freezer as the timing didn’t work out.

I got both the pastry and filling out of the freezer this past weekend, thinking I would make the empanadas on Sunday. I finally got around to baking them for dinner last night (Monday). Fortunately, with the filling and puff pastry done, it was really just a matter of assembling everything. Of course, I couldn’t make things too easy, so I decided to make a few different empanadas. I had some Portobello mushrooms and canned chicken, so I made a sherry-mushroom-chicken filling. And I had a can of apple pie filling for caramel apple empanadas.

The dough rolled out beautifully, and the empanadas came together quickly. I made the two savory varieties first and then threw together the apple empanadas while the first batch was in the oven.

The savory empanadas were both delicious. I started with the mushroom and chicken version and was pretty sure it would be my favorite. Then I tasted Nick’s version, and it was amazing! The filling was mildly spicy and blended perfectly with the buttery, flaky crust.

The caramel apple empanadas were good, too, but not as good as the savory versions. I probably should have baked them a bit longer or at a slightly higher temperature. The taste was fine, but they weren’t as crispy as I would have liked.

Nonetheless, I am sold on Nick’s version of empanadas. The puff pastry is perfect, and the filling possibilities are almost endless. I definitely want to try the ground beef version in the book. And I could see keeping extra filling in the freezer for an easy weeknight dinner.

Some of my Twitter friends made these, too. Check out these posts by Abby, Andrea, and Kayte.