Sunday, June 7, 2015

Restaurant Style Cheeseburgers

When I crave a burger, I'm a minimalist. Keep your fried egg, your imported cheese, even your bacon. Me? I want the classic.  Give me a golden, toasted bun, some ooey-gooey American cheese, a little ketchup, and perfectly juicy beef seasoned with just a hint of salt and pepper.  That's really all you need right? 

The problem is, when I make them at home, I can never seem to get that perfect restaurant quality.  I'll admit I used to try and make burgers with lean ground beef - that's a rookie mistake.  If you don't start with 80/20 ground beef, you're just wasting your time.  

The second part of my problem is that I love a thin patty (it's all about the meat to cheese ratio after all), but my burgers always seem to plump up so high on the grill or even in a pan.  Trying to press a burger just forces out all of the delicious juices and you end up with a dry, overdone burger. 

Fortunately for me, my friend Kendra introduced me to the perfect burger method and I doubt i'll ever turn back.  I wish I could take credit for it, but the method came from a recipe for Fake Shack Burgers on one of my favorite blogs - Smitten Kitchen.  They key is to form your patties very thick - I shaped mine almost like a meatball, and freeze them for 15 minutes.  The idea is not to freeze the meat, but to chill the fat content.  When the meat hits the hot pan, you immediately press it into a thin patty and since the fat is so cold, you won't lose any of the delicious juices in this initial step. 

The results might just give you the juiciest burgers you've ever tasted. The outside will be perfectly blackened, crisp, and seasoned to perfection. Of course, you can top yours with whatever you'd like - feel free to get fancy, or keep it old school like me! 

Ingredients (Makes 4 burgers):
*1.25 lb. ground chuck (80/20 fat content)
*4 buns
*3 tbsp. butter
*salt, pepper
*toppings of your choice!

Divide your beef into 4 equal parts. Roll into thick patties or meatballs - they should be at least 2 inches high. Place on a wax paper lined plate and transfer to the freezer for 15 minutes (no more or less).  Heat a griddle to medium heat (300 degrees).  Add 1 tbsp. of butter and add your buns until they are just lightly golden and toasted. Set aside on plates. 

Increase your griddle temperature to high (400 degrees).  Add the remaining butter and add patties one at a time.  As soon as the patty hits the griddle, use a large spatula to press it down flat.  Use a second spatula if needed to ensure the meat doesn't stick to the pressed down spatula.  Season with salt and pepper.  Repeat with the remaining patties.  After 1.5-2 minutes, flip the patties and season the second side with salt and pepper.  Top with cheese, if using.  Continue to cook another 2 minutes, or to desired doneness.  Enjoy! 

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