Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Meeeeeeat . . .

Said in my best Homer Simpson drool. Yes, good old red meat, hamburgers to be precise. These are slam dunk easy but always delicious burgers. See, I prefer my burger well done but all burger aficionados know what that usually means, a grey piece of cardboard. I've come a long way in my culinary journey and will now eat runny egg yolks but rare ground meat is not something that's in my comfort zone right now.

Several years ago Mr. Maricucu and I took up cooking together. This was before we had children and we frittered away our time on dumb things like reading books and hobbies when we should have been sleeping 24/7 in preparation for what it means to be a walking zombie, umm parent. He would tell me about longing for the perfect burger and that his brother in law, J. made the perfect hamburger with just salt and pepper plus a little worcestershire sauce. Me being in the camp of "more is more and much better" never did quite believe that something so simple could be so good. I continued to make my burgers like a mini meatball with a binder, tons of seasoning and they were just so-so.

Then I stumbled across my go to reference - cook's illustrated and their article on the Well Done Burger. Their version features a soaked bread and milk mixture that helps keep the burger moist along with some chopped onion, salt, pepper and worcestershire sauce. I'm so sorry J. for ever having doubted you! I made the burgers and Mr. Maricucu immediately told me to add the recipe to our cookbook. The CI method also cooks the burger all the way on high heat only 4-5 minutes on each side so the burgers don't dry out. It was definitely a hit, definitely delicious but still something kept getting under my skin. Real burgers shouldn't have binders or fillers in them, plus the recipe was a bit too fussy to make on a regular basis (and we have homemade burgers at least once a week).

Enter my mom. Hey mami! *waves* She being the gourmet foodie that she is (all my skills come from my mami, my abuela and surprisingly my papi too, he dictates how things should taste), was watching Ina Garten make her famous burgers with *gasp!* egg yolks and a cube of butter hidden in the middle of each patty. I had to try it right away. Quite a delicious burger, very decadent and tasted like a filet mignon burger but again, not practical for an everyday burger.

After eating a delicious all beef burger at a friend's fourth of July party I decided to tweak the CI recipe, keeping the cooking method but simplifying the ingredient list. I made a batch of just beef, chopped onion, salt and black pepper. Best. Burgers. Ever. No seriously I promise. I've run it by the taste test panel, Mr. Maricucu, the boy children, my papi, mami and most importantly my carnivore of a brother the football coach.

So this is for my baby brother B. who thanks to a required nutrition and cooking class in college is now on his way to being a foodie himself.

Simply Delicious Burgers

approximately 2lbs 80/20 ground beef - absolutely NO lean beef or you will be eating a piece of leather
1/2 large white onion, chopped fine - use the other half for topping the burger, see I'm thinking so you don't have to
2-3 teaspoons kosher salt - I measure this with my fingers so not an exact measurement
2-3 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the grill on high. Mix onion, salt and pepper.

Then gently break up the ground beef over the mixed onion, salt and pepper mixture. Make sure to break up any clumps of beef. With your fingertips, toss the beef with the onion mixture like you would a salad. Then grab large handfuls of meat and form into patties about 3/4" thick and 4" across. They don't have to be perfect, just generally patty shaped and even thickness. You don't want to overheat the meat with your hands.

Finally, grill on high 4-5 minutes on each side. No more and I would start checking them at 3-4 minutes so they don't overcook. Thankfully, Mr. Maricucu has become the master griller and slaves away in front of the hot grill to bring us these beauties. Whatever you do do not squash the patties down with your spatula. If you need to do something with your hands take up crocheting and do that while the burgers cook.

See the color? See how moist they are? You can do the typical burger toppings or you can have it like Pioneer Woman which as of late is my favorite version. The caramelized onions, hot sauce mayo and greens on such a flavorful burger might have you making burgers every day for a week. Enjoy!

P.S.: My sister did not in fact kill me for her birthday wish on my blog yesterday. In fact, she actually enjoyed it and has promised to guest post this summer on my blog. As a correction she is in fact a middle school mathematics teacher which slipped my feeble aging mind. H. you deserve sainthood for that reason alone.

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