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Adlen Robinson: Hamburger 101
Hamburgers stock
Photo by Niklas Rhöse on Unsplash

Are you planning on grilling out for the Fourth of July? If so, what’s on your menu? Steaks are great, but boy are they pricey right now. Everybody loves hamburgers and they are much friendlier when it comes to your food budget. You might think hamburgers are a cinch to make — and they are. Still, there are lots of super simple tips that promise to elevate your burgers by taking them to a higher level. Let’s get to our Hamburger 101 Primer. 

The meat. Of course, better quality meat means better burgers. So much already ground hamburger meat is extremely lean. That might sound good, but a little fat will give your burgers so much more flavor. Remember this “chefy” phrase — Fat Equals Flavor. 

Did you know the butcher at your regular grocery store will grind meat for you? You can pick out a beautiful, well-marbled chuck roast, and ask your butcher to grind it for you. Make sure you say you plan on cooking hamburgers since they usually grind it twice. While I am a purist on most things, even the best hamburger meat will benefit from salt, pepper, and a little bit of garlic powder and Worcestershire sauce. 

Buns matter. So many grocery store hamburger buns are just too soft — they cannot hold up to a good burger and all of the “fixins.” Look for a sturdy bun. Most grocery stores have bakeries that do a much better job of making sturdy hamburger (and hotdog) buns than national brands, so look for those. Make sure you butter the buns and warm them on the grill wrapped in aluminum foil. 

Burger toppings also matter. Choose crunchy lettuce — my favorite is romaine, but iceberg works too. Sweet onion is the best — regular onions can be too harsh. A good tomato is imperative — thank goodness summer is here, so you can find a good one. Choose your favorite cheese — whether it is cheddar, Swiss, or provolone, use thick slices. Mayonnaise, mustard and ketchup are also staples — some people even like barbecue sauce. Pickles are also essential — offer dill and bread and butter pickles and let everybody choose their favorite pickle. You can get fancy when it comes to burger toppings — think avocado toppings, cooked bacon slices, jalapeno slices (raw or pickled) or even onion rings. 

Now you know the details, let’s get cooking!

The Ultimate Hamburgers for Four

  • 1 pound ground beef, preferably ground chuck roast

  • 1 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 1 teaspoon pepper

  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

  • Dash of hot sauce (optional)

  • Hamburger Buns

  • 4 teaspoons butter, softened

Combine ground beef, salt, pepper, garlic powder, Worcestershire sauce and hot sauce, if so desired. Form into four patties. Place a slight indent in the middle of each burger. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until you are ready to cook the hamburgers.  

For grilling, preheat the grill to high. Spray burgers with non-stick cooking spray and grill 3 to 4 minutes per side to your desired doneness. 

For indoor cooking, preheat a castiron skillet over medium-high heat, and cook hamburgers 3 to 4 minutes per side to your desired doneness. 

Spread each hamburger bun with butter. Wrap in aluminum foil and place on grill or in the oven until buns are warm. 

Toppings 

  • Romaine Lettuce

  • Sweet Onion Slices

  • Tomato Slices

  • Thick Slices of Cheese

  • Dill and/or Bread and Butter Pickles

  • Avocado Slices

  • Cooked Bacon Slices

  • Mayonnaise, Mustard, Ketchup, Barbecue Sauce 

  • Raw or Pickled Jalapeno Slices

Ultimate Potato Salad

  • 3 pound Yukon Gold or red potatoes, cut into cubes

  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

  • 1 cup mayonnaise

  • 1/4 cup dill pickle relish

  • 1 teaspoon celery salt

  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

  • 4 hard-boiled eggs, chopped

  • 2 celery stalks, finely minced

  • 1/2 cup red onion, finely minced

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper

  • 1/4 cup chives, minced

Place the diced potatoes in a large stockpot and add enough water so that the potatoes are covered by 1 inch. Cook over medium-high heat until the water reaches a boil. Then reduce heat to medium to maintain the simmer and continue cooking the potatoes for 5 to 8 minutes or until the potatoes pierce easily with a fork.

Drain the potatoes into a colander. Place potatoes in a large bowl and drizzle with vinegar.

In another bowl,  whisk together the mayo, celery salt, mustard and pickle relish in a medium bowl until evenly combined

Pour mayo mixture over potatoes. Add chopped eggs, celery and onion. Toss gently until evenly combined. Add salt, pepper and chives. Taste for seasoning. Cover and chill for several hours.

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