As the weather starts warming up, families are pulling out their grills and honoring National Hamburger Month whether they know May is officially designated as such or that National Hamburger Day is Thursday, May 28.
Burger variations seem as limitless as the comfort food’s inspiration is on continually evolving dining concepts.
For Yoshi Kipper, head chef and food production manager at Liberty Hospital, there are several ways to craft a good burger.
Kipper said for the gourmet foodie, the ability to grind meat to play with meat mixtures is key. A popular mix, he said, is 40% brisket, 30% ground pork and 30% chuck steak, top sirloin or ground chuck.
Kipper said a good seasoning mixture can be made with salt, pepper, granulated garlic and granulated onion but a favorite steak seasoning or barbecue rub also work well.
“It cooks really, really fast and tastes like you went to a burger joint,” he said. “Melt some cheese if you like, and toast your bun in a little bit of that grease. Just don’t eat like this all of the time.”
Another go-to burger style that the chef and others enjoy is the Juicy Lucy, a burger hand-formed into a large meatball with cheese in the center.
“Remember to season your burger. Now, as far as cooking this type of burger, it is best not to cook it too hot too quickly or cook it well done, ... you will lose your cheese or filling,” Kipper explained.
Yet another style is the quick and easy traditional ground beef patty.
“With hamburgers you want to treat yourself a little so don’t get one at the store that has too little fat content,” Kipper said. “Don’t worry, most of the grease will cook out when you cook it. I recommend not going any leaner than 80/20. The first number is the amount of meat and the second number is your fat or meat to fat ratio.”
Burger formation & grilling
After forming the patty, make a little indentation in the center top of each patty to keep the burgers from creating a dome when cooking, which may result in uneven cooking.
“This is almost sure to happen if you don’t. Season and cook. Make sure that your grill is nice and hot, but not too hot like a steak. Don’t keep pressing on your burgers as they cook, this is what causes flare-ups, a.k.a. fire on the grill, and dries out your burger. Keep the lid down whenever possible, but if you are cooking on a hot grill, then do not close your grill,” he said. “Flare-ups will happen from time to time, just have a little bit of water ready to splash onto your grill. If it really flares up, use kosher salt to extinguish the flames and turn your burner off till the flames subside.”
Kipper said grillers should know each grill will cook differently.
“A meat thermometer will help let you know how done your burgers are. If they are really thin, you might have to stack your burgers to get an accurate reading,” he said. “You don’t want to get the temp of your grill thinking that is the temperature of your burger.”
Most important Kipper said, is not to flip a burger too often. Being methodical and consistent, he said, will result in restaurant-quality burgers.
“Of course, the ultimate in grilling a hamburger is sharing with good friends and family,” Kipper said. “Have those higher fat meats. Don’t be shy on seasoning, and find some good bread and a good grill.”