Burgers are no doubt one of life’s greatest pleasures ever known to mankind. An ultimate comfort food. While burgers have a bad rep for being unhealthy, moderation is always the key. And although you can easily enjoy them in a fast-food joint or a gourmet burger restaurant/cafe, why not try making them your own at home? Here are 15 Tips To Make Homemade Juicy Burgers.
1) 80/20 Rules
Nobody likes to bite into a burger that is either too dry, crumbly or lacking flavour. This is especially true if you choose lean meat to make a burger. Instead, use minced beef — preferably, the beef chuck — with a fat content ideally at 80% lean and 20% fat. After all, the fat in the minced beef is mainly responsible for enhancing the natural beefy flavour of your burger.
2) The Fresher The Better
There’s no harm in store-bought minced beef. But if you want your homemade burger to be as tender and flavourful as possible, your best bet is to go to your local butcher’s shop. And don’t be shy to ask them to grind the meat fresh! Again, ideally 80% lean and 20% fat.
3) You Can Grind Your Own
Okay, this is an alternative step. But in case you can’t trust your butcher to do the job for you, you have a second choice: grind your own meat. Provided, of course, you own a food processor or a home grinder in the kitchen. All you need to do is cut the meat into chunks and place it in the freezer for at least 15 minutes. Make sure the meat is firm enough but not frozen. Then, grind or pulse the meat until it becomes minced.
4) As Little As Possible, As Soft As Possible
Here’s the thing when you are touching the meat: the more you handle, the tougher or denser your burger will become. Treat your meat like it is “alive”. Toss gently with fingers and definitely not using utensils like a spoon or fork and form your patty as tenderly as possible.
5) Wet Hands Matter
Handling meat can be a sticky situation and if your hands are too dry, you will end up ruining the whole burger-making process. Once you are ready to handle the meat, make sure your hand is damp with cold water. This is to prevent your hands from getting sticky and also helps to form the patty faster and easier.
6) Make A Dimple Or Thumbprint In The Patty
To prevent your burger from bulging in the centre or shrinking into half its size, always remember to make a dimple in the middle of each patty. That way, you will get the exact shape or at least an evenly-sized patty at the end of the grilling/cooking process.
7) Don’t Bother With Too Much Seasoning
When you are making your own burger at home, it’s obvious you want to taste the natural flavour of the beef. Otherwise, what’s the point of buying the freshest or high-quality meat in the first place? So, when comes to seasoning, there are only two ingredients that matter: salt and pepper. All you need to do is sprinkle it on the patty liberally on the outer part of the burger.
8) Season The Burger At The Right Time
That means do not season with salt and pepper until each patty is formed. For instance, if you season your burger too early with salt, it will cause the otherwise tender patty into a springy-like texture. Your best bet is to always season your burger the moment you begin to grill them.
9) Ensure Your Grill/Pan Is Hot
Never ever place your patty on a grill or pan that is still cold to the touch. Besides, you do not want your patty to end up sticking. Make sure the grill or pan is hot before you place the patties. That way, you will have a nice caramelisation on the outside of the burger at the end of the grilling process.
10) Don’t Over-Flip, Only Once Will Do
Once you start grilling the burger, make sure a crust is formed on the bottom. This typically takes around 3 minutes or so. Then, use a metal spatula and flip them over… once. If you choose to over-flip your burger, it will only toughen the meat.
11) Choose Your “Doneness”
How would you like your meat to be cooked? It all varies on each individual. And yes, this may typically apply to steak but you can also do that to a burger. Here are the general rules of thumb on each side of the patty: 2 minutes for “rare”, 3 minutes for “medium-rare”, 4 minutes for “medium” and 5 minutes for “well-done”.
12) Lay Off That Spatula
No, we’re not asking you to cook with your bare hands. What we are trying to say here is do not make a rookie mistake by using the spatula to press down on the patty. Doing so will only cause the patty to lose its juice and your burger will end up dry and flavourless.
13) Say “Cheese”
Cheese and burger are like a match made in heaven. If you are on a budget, you can opt for processed cheddar cheese and place it on top of the burger and let it melt. But if you have a lil’ extra, look for Monterey Jack or Swiss cheese to boost the flavour of your burger.
14) Choose The Right Bun
When comes to buying buns, you can pick either brioche or potato buns. But whatever you do, never buy those buns that are hard because they won’t hold the patties well in between. Just make sure the buns are soft and squishy.
Remember to spread each side of the burger bun with butter and then, lightly toast them on a grill or pan.
15) Start Assembling!
Now, this is the fun part. After you have cooked the patties and lightly toasted the buns, it’s time to assemble the burger. While every person has their own favourite toppings, your best bet is to go for the balance. That means adding one topping each from different category. For instance, you can add a fried egg or sliced ham for the savoury part; and sliced tomato and/or iceberg lettuce for the crisp part.