Burgers are the perfect quick meal or satisfying comfort food, beloved by people of all ages, around the world. The hamburger was first made in the United States in the early 20th century, using ground beef made from a cut of meat from Hamburg in Germany, hence the name! Burgers soon caught on and they were one of the first foods to be successfully mass-produced. The popularity of burgers increased dramatically with the launch of the fast-food chain McDonalds in the 1940s. Today, burgers are a popular global food, made with a variety of meats or vegetables and enjoyed by everyone. But the big question is, how to make the perfect burger?
If you were to make some customer research on a busy street and asked passers-by what makes a great burger, many would describe a juicy, tasty burger with various trimmings, popped into a lovely fresh burger bun. Burgers are easy to make and serve but with attention to detail at every stage, you can turn an ordinary burger into an amazing burger
Choose the right type of meat
The ground meat for a burger needs to have about 20% fat otherwise the result will be a dry, crumbling burger. The classic choice of meat is beef, but pork, lamb, chicken, and turkey can also be used. If you are planning to make classic burgers, chuck steak is a good cut to use as it has the correct fat content and a really good flavor. The key is to use fresh ground beef. If possible, get your local butcher to overground the meat whilst you wait, or better still, use a mincer at home.
Since the 1980s, even vegetarians have been able to enjoy burgers and there is a vast range of ‘veggie burgers’ on the market, made from various mixtures of soya beans, nuts, grains, and tofu.
Handle your burgers with care!
To ensure your burgers have the correct texture, they must be handled as little as possible during their preparation. Place the ground meat and other ingredients such as beaten egg and seasoning in a large bowl. Using only your fingertips, very gently mix the ingredients together.
Before shaping the mixture into burgers, dampen your hands as this will make shaping it much easier and will ensure that you handle the mixture as little as possible.
Preparing your amazing burgers
Divide the mixture into even-sized portions and very gently shape each burger into a circular burger shape around, 3-4 inches (8-10 cm) in diameter and 1-2 inches (2-3cm) thick. Place the burger onto a baking tin, lined with cooking parchment. Depress the center of the burger with your thumb, this will ensure that the burger remains nice and flat as it cooks. Repeat this process until all your burgers are ready.
Very importantly, cover the baking tray and pop it into the fridge until you are ready to cook your burgers.
Cook to perfection
Whilst you are heating the grill or the barbecue, remove the tray of burgers from the fridge so that they can warm to room temperature. At the same time, warm a serving plate in the oven. The key to success at this stage is to get the grill or charcoal nice and hot. Ensure that the charcoal is covered in a layer of white ash as this shows that it is hot enough and will cook the burgers evenly. Lightly oil the cooking rack.
Pop the burgers under the grill or on the barbecue to cook and do not touch them. If your barbecue has a lid, keep it closed to keep the heat in. Cook the burgers for three minutes if you like them medium-rare or four minutes if you prefer medium burgers. When the time is up, turn the burgers over and cook for the same amount of time on the other side. Do not be tempted to press the burgers with tongs or a spatula as they cook as this will squeeze out their precious juices.
When the burgers are cooked, lift them carefully onto the serving plate and leave them to rest for 7-8 minutes before serving.
The Perfect burger recipe for 4
- 1lb (450g) ground beef
- 1 medium egg (whisked in a teacup)
- 1 teaspoon of salt
- 1 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper
- 4 fresh burger buns or soft brioche
These are the basic ingredients for the perfect burgers. The mixture will seem wet, but the burgers once you have shaped them, will soon firm up when they are in the fridge.
You can ‘ring the changes’ by adding any of these ingredients to the burger mixture:
- 1teaspoon barbecue sauce
- 1 teaspoon of Dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon of curry powder
- 1 teaspoon of thyme
- 1 teaspoon Herbs de Provence
Add the ‘wow’ factor!
You can be as creative as you like now that you know how to make the perfect burger! There are so many things that you can slip in between the bread as well as a burger! You can add crisply fried bacon and onions or a thin slice of cheese, thinly sliced tomato, or avocado. Great accompaniments to burgers include chunky hand-cut chips and home-made coleslaw. Once you know the secret of how to make the perfect burger, the sky’s the limit!