ATK recipe#16: Skillet Hamburgers

I am way behind on writing up these recipes. I made these hamburgers in the middle of last week. Now, I have been working on my hamburger technique for years. My mom makes just about the best burgers I’ve ever had and I’ve been trying to get close to her burgers for a long time. I’ve gotten pretty close recently.

I’ll tell you my normal burger technique. You take the best meat you can either get or afford, at least 15% fat, and add Lawry’s seasoning salt and Worcestershire sauce. The right amount is an art. Then in forming the patties, the trick is to handle the meat as little as possible and still get a patty. Then I usually do them on my George Foreman grill, because it’s quick and easy and it’s hot outside where the grill is. I have never made a burger in a skillet, but I thought, hey, it’s pretty much the same as the Foreman, right?

The instructions for the ATK recipe call for 80% lean meat seasoned with salt and pepper and formed into patties 1 inch thick with a depression in the middle. This is to prevent a puffed up dome in the burger. I’ve never had that problem, but what the hell. I decided this was just way too boring a way to do burgers, so I looked at the one variation for this recipe: skillet cheeseburgers. It calls for shredded cheese mixed into the burger meat. I had considered and dismissed this suggestion, because to me a burger needs melted cheese on top to really be right. But, ok, let’s try it.

So I used a cast iron skillet and added the 2 tablespoons vegetable oil the recipe calls for. As instructed, I added the burgers and cooked one side for three minutes until well browned. My first thought was “Damn, that’s a lot of oil to cook ground beef.” Indeed, when I flipped, there was a dark brown crust on the burgers, but only on the part of them in the center. The recipe says to flip and “cook to desired doneness.” But since my burger foo is based on a technique other than this one, I have no idea how long to cook these. These burgers are supposed to have a dark brown crust, so I use that as my guide. Which means I have to both flip and turn several times to get each half of the burger properly browned.

So, the results were less than thrilling. The burgers were juicy, perhaps even greasy, but that’s ok. They were cooked through, probably overcooked. I was promised that the brown crust would make amazing flavor, but though there was a nice crust on the burger, it was a very little part of the overall burger experience, which was mostly pretty boring. I couldn’t taste the cheese in the meat and had to add a slice of cheese, so I just about doubled my cheese intake without noticing. Plus I don’t think the added oil greasiness was necessary with the high far meat.

So, yeah, I won’t be doing burgers this way again. The last time I made burgers they were so good we had burgers AGAIN the next day just because we could. This time I really didn’t want to think about burgers after eating it.

I’ve got a few more recipes to write up from the weekend and then an exciting week of baking and vegetarian cooking in preparation for and during a visit from friends.

16 out of 1200

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