What makes a juicy Hamburger?

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Adjudicator
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RE: What makes a juicy Hamburger? 2003/08/05 20:22:20 (permalink)
What makes for a good, juicy burger
MY recipe, of course...
#31
wesza
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RE: What makes a juicy Hamburger? 2003/08/05 20:37:43 (permalink)
Gram-ma;s Burgers were mostly prepared from Fresh Chuck and Neck Meat Trimings Ground twice to order at the Neighborhood Butcher. they were from Bone-in Butchered meat being hung at the Butchers cooler, averaged 70% to 80% Lean. Then and Now,DELICIOUS. But with the start of Supermarkets, USDA Boxed, Boned, Cryovac, Cuts that included Meat Trimmings, Rough Grind 50/50 [50% fat/50% Lean}to be mixed with Buther department Trimming for Hamburger. This evolved as volume grew, especially because of Fast Food + Giant Chainstore Operations to include Boxed Imported Beef, Bull 90% Visual/Lean, Cow 90% visual/Lean and Steer 90% Visual/Lean all were Frozen or Unfrozen, packed in 60 pound boxes. Shipped from Central/South America, New Zeland, Australia or Canada. This Beef has always been Grass Fed, except for imported trimings from better Grades processed beef. These Meats are thawed, Ground and processed with added fats from Store trimmings to whatever specified, but questionable fat content. Very often these boxed meats are ground up partialy frozen to enhance color and keep appearence red longer in showcase/refrigarator. Ever notice the fluid that suddenly appears in your pan when cooking? Or seems like Fat dripping on your coals that Steams unstead of Sizziling? Now you know why. Your best ground beef will come if you purchase Top Round, Check Boneless or even Stew Meat and grind this twice yourself, or cut into small equal size pieces, chop up in your cusinart type machine, then mix and chop again. You can pre-grind or pre-chop some fat trimmings to mix into your ground beef to enhance flavor. For very good taste and character try grinding up Diaphram or Skirt Steak for a real better tasting treat.
#32
tcrouzer
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RE: What makes a juicy Hamburger? 2003/08/15 21:12:53 (permalink)
I mix the meat with salt and pepper and form it into patties, but not packed tightly. I preheat my #12 cast iron skillet and sprinkle a little salt in the pan before adding the meat. I sear both sides and turn the heat down a little until done. Now, the important part!

When the patties are done to your liking, lay a slice of cheese on top of each, then put the buns on top of each patty (bottom bun first, stack the top bun on next), then turn the fire off and cover the skillet tightly with a lid for at least 5 to 15 minutes. This steams the buns with the heat from the meat and keeps the burgers juicy.
Sorry, don't know how to put your original message in a box
I recently tried your method, Lone Star, and those cheeseburgers were probably the best I've ever made. Used a cast iron skillet like you said, ground chuck (80%meat 20%fat), and proceeded just as you directed. The only problem I had was when it came to putting the lid on after. The only lid I had was too flat, so I just laid it on top of the burgers and buns. I guess some foil laid over the top and crimped around the edge of the pan would do the trick. I'll try that next time. Thanks for a good, juicy, cheeseburger!

You can't make a better burger!
#33
lleechef
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RE: What makes a juicy Hamburger? 2003/08/16 08:42:07 (permalink)
At the Black Cow Tap and Grill they use Black Angus burger, 75-15 ratio, so not too lean. Hand pack into 10 oz. burgers and throw them naked, no salt or pepper, onto a blasting hot grill. Most important: NEVER, NEVER, NEVER SMASH DOWN WITH THE SPATULA!!
After flipping, add a little s&p, and never cook well done. Serve it up on a big 'ol grilled bulkie roll with cheese, bacon or whatever. Don't forget a giant slab of fresh tomato and some nice crisp lettuce.
I used to wonder how my customers could negotiate this big messy, juicy concoction out in the dining room with the goodies running down the backs of their hands, but they managed cuz we sold tons of them. (I wonder how many times I said "Don't SMASH the burgers down!!!)
#34
seafarer john
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RE: What makes a juicy Hamburger? 2003/08/16 13:12:34 (permalink)
lleechef: I'm worried about that 10% you don't tell us about in your burger - it isn't like that unmentioned ingredient in Gertrude Stein's brownies is it?
#35
lleechef
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RE: What makes a juicy Hamburger? 2003/08/16 19:45:36 (permalink)
woops! typo! nope, it's 75-25." />
#36
Lone Star
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RE: What makes a juicy Hamburger? 2003/08/16 20:17:22 (permalink)
tcrouzer, I'm glad it worked for you! It's something about the steaming of the meat and buns together in the cast iron skillet that does it, I suppose.

My granny would be so proud
#37
emsmom
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RE: What makes a juicy Hamburger? 2004/09/03 13:04:10 (permalink)
My mother always cooked her burgers until desired doneness . Then whe would add a Tsp. of water to her skillet and put a lid on the skillet for just a minute or so
quote:
Originally posted by Lone Star

Sundancer - I make hamburgers the way my mother and grandmother taught me, and my kids say that they are better than any that can be bought.

I mix the meat with salt and pepper and form it into patties, but not packed tightly. I preheat my #12 cast iron skillet and sprinkle a little salt in the pan before adding the meat. I sear both sides and turn the heat down a little until done. Now, the important part!

When the patties are done to your liking, lay a slice of cheese on top of each, then put the buns on top of each patty (bottom bun first, stack the top bun on next), then turn the fire off and cover the skillet tightly with a lid for at least 5 to 15 minutes. This steams the buns with the heat from the meat and keeps the burgers juicy.

You can't make a better burger!
#38
fcbaldwin
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RE: What makes a juicy Hamburger? 2004/09/03 13:40:57 (permalink)
quote:
Originally posted by lleechef

Most important: NEVER, NEVER, NEVER SMASH DOWN WITH THE SPATULA!!



I AGREE! My wife taught me this years ago. And always use fresh ground chuck, at least 20% fat content, and form those patties gently...no packing of the meat. Then, as lleechef said, cook on a blazing hot griddle or iron pan. Flip only once after the first side is seared. No smashing, no packing, minimal handling. Makes a great, juicy burger.

Frank
#39
Sundancer7
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RE: What makes a juicy Hamburger? 2004/09/03 14:58:39 (permalink)
quote:
Originally posted by lleechef

At the Black Cow Tap and Grill they use Black Angus burger, 75-15 ratio, so not too lean. Hand pack into 10 oz. burgers and throw them naked, no salt or pepper, onto a blasting hot grill. Most important: NEVER, NEVER, NEVER SMASH DOWN WITH THE SPATULA!!
After flipping, add a little s&p, and never cook well done. Serve it up on a big 'ol grilled bulkie roll with cheese, bacon or whatever. Don't forget a giant slab of fresh tomato and some nice crisp lettuce.
I used to wonder how my customers could negotiate this big messy, juicy concoction out in the dining room with the goodies running down the backs of their hands, but they managed cuz we sold tons of them. (I wonder how many times I said "Don't SMASH the burgers down!!!)


I agree with Lleechef regarding never smashing the burgers. I also wonder about another poster who indicated covering the burgers and letting them stem for a while.

The Sundancers main problem has been with the burgers getting hard on the grill. I guess they taste OK but they are crispy and hard. I tried cooking them medium or rare but the family does not like that. I just wanted to get a juicy burger.

Paul E. Smith
Knoxville, TN
#40
Tony Bad
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RE: What makes a juicy Hamburger? 2004/09/03 15:13:20 (permalink)
If, for reasons of health, you need to be conscious of the fat content, and are using a lower fat cut of meat, I add some bread crumbs and then lightly shape the burgers. The bread soaks up and retains a lot of the juices and keeps the burgers moist even without all the fat. I use this when making buffalo burgers as well, as the meat is lean and dries out easily.

I know it isn't 100% meat if you use bread, but it is better than a hockey puck!
#41
dan409
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RE: What makes a juicy Hamburger? 2004/09/03 18:24:05 (permalink)
Cut down on fat content and still have a juicy burger by adding wild rice to the beef. Check it out. http://www.extension.umn.edu/distribution/nutrition/DJ3979.html
#42
Bushie
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RE: What makes a juicy Hamburger? 2004/09/03 22:30:46 (permalink)
Not that lleechef needs MY endorsement, but one of the main lessons I've learned "the hard way" is DON'T smash the burger. Others are: don't hand-form the meat too tightly, use at LEAST an 80-20 mix, but I'm still with lleechef on this; use 75-25. Also, as I mentioned before, depressing the center of the patty really works.

And as for Lone Star's suggestion about covering pan-fried burgers with the lid, that's for steaming the BUN, not the meat. I love burgers cooked over charcoal or in a cast-iron skillet, and now I ALWAYS finish burgers cooked in a skillet using Lone Star's suggestion. FANTASTIC!

Just felt like throwing another two cents into this fountain.

#43
hefried
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RE: What makes a juicy Hamburger? 2004/09/03 23:44:59 (permalink)
good beef makes for a juicy burger, no other thing will do. the best " fast food"chain i know of is Burgerville here in Portland OR and vicinity. They use Oregon Country Beef which is hormone free and never frozen and grown by local farmers and the burgers are great. I sometimes buy beef for good burgers from Gartners meats ( www.gartnersmeats.com)a local butcher who's been around for many years. There is a marked difference between their fresh ground "ground beef" and supermarket varieties.
#44
Rick51NH
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RE: What makes a juicy Hamburger? 2004/09/03 23:45:37 (permalink)
For a simple juicy burger:

-Use 75-80% lean chuck.
-GENTLY fold the meat and make a thick patty.
-Add a pad of butter in the middle (optional).
-Sprinkle with onion powder.
-Pre-heat your BBQ grill to high heat (450-500).
-Sear the patty for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes each side (Cover shut).
-Move coals to the sides (or shut off one burner if gas used) so no fire is underneath burger, and reduce grill temp to around 350.
-Flip burger every 1 1/2 to 2 minutes until done.

Enjoy!
Rick
#45
BT
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RE: What makes a juicy Hamburger? 2004/09/04 03:43:55 (permalink)
I grind my own chuck making sure that there is a reasonable amount of fat included (the exact percentage is pretty hard to calculate). I prefer to cook it in thickish, hand-formed patties over charcoal on a Lodge cast iron grill (cast iron holds the heat best and therefore sears the meat better). Unlike Rick, I want flames--my ideal burger is blackened crispy on the outside but with a pea-sized bit of raw meat in the center.
#46
UncleVic
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RE: What makes a juicy Hamburger? 2004/09/06 07:05:45 (permalink)
I use the 80/20 mix for my burgers... Nothing special in handling them, I form the patties I want, take a spoon to indent the center (reduces shrinkage), season with Lawrys Seasoning salt on both sides and toss them on the grill... Minimal flipping! 3 at the most! Then I use my meat probe and soon as they hit 165 I pull them off the grill... Never come out dry and always juicy...
#47
Nemis
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RE: What makes a juicy Hamburger? 2004/09/06 09:06:40 (permalink)
I know this may sound odd but you can make a compound butter such as garlic tarragon butter and place a pat of butter right in the middle of the raw pattie. Not only does the butter keep the meat moist while cooking but you have great flavor as well! This idea was originally thought of by the father of French cooking, Augustus Escoffier but he would use a small ice cube.
#48
hermitt4d
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RE: What makes a juicy Hamburger? 2004/09/09 04:45:51 (permalink)
From America's Test Kitchens "The Best Recipe" cookbook (which I like better than the show): they agree with the 80/20 proportion and say anything over about 21 or 22% fat will wind up being left in the pan anyway. They recommend buying a chuck roast and having it ground or grinding it yourself and say in their tests doing so the result came out at about 20% fat content when checked with a Fat Analyzer device. That's what I prefer to do, grinding it myself. I presume they were buying choice rather than select beef.

Interesting facts I didn't know: labeled fat content on a package of meat has to be accurate no matter where processed but the content, in terms of what cut(s) of meat were used, isn't controlled or assured unless the meat was processed at a federally inspected meat processing plant.

From Russ Parsons' "How to Read a French Fry:" the perceived juiciness of a piece of meat has to do both with how much moisture is left in the meat when cooked but also how much the saliva glands are stimulated. The intensification of flavor which results from caramelization of sugars on the surface of the meat (browning) stimulates the salivaries more than that grey stuff the fast food places specialize in.

I like a little 'crust' on my burger patty -- not blackened - with a bit of pink left in the center.

#49
Zman
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RE: What makes a juicy Hamburger? 2004/09/10 00:26:28 (permalink)
The juiciest, most flavorfull burgers I ever tasted:
Place 2-5 lbs. of ground sirloin,chuck, or round (10% fat min.) in a large mixing bowl. Season with fresh ground pepper, a pinch of salt, ground white pepper, cumin, and fennel. Knead vigorously to mix in the spices. Then add finely chopped fresh onion and garlic and knead again 'til well mixed.
NOW comes the important part ..... Add equal parts of Worcestershire sauce and A-1 steak sauce and knead VIGOROUSLY. Repeat until "wet". ( by "wet",
I mean until the meat is saturated and will absorb no more!) Form the ground meat into a large ball, cover, and refrigerate for a min. of 24 hrs.
If you have done this correctly, any wors./A-1 sauce that you may have seen in the bowl WILL be gone!
Form the patties to your favorite size and let them rest @ room temp. for 1 hr. Sear over very high heat on both sides then put the cover on the grill and close the vents. Cook for another 5 mins. or til med. rare.
DO NOT FOR ANY REASON "smash" or press these burgers with a spatula while cooking!!
The end result will be a succulent burger so juicy that the juice will run down your arms! ENJOY!
#50
Jack_Hoo
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RE: What makes a juicy Hamburger? 2004/09/22 17:40:00 (permalink)
80% ground chuck....ground sirloin is acceptable at 80%. Don't over manipulate, and don't over cook.
#51
michaelgemmell
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RE: What makes a juicy Hamburger? 2004/09/22 18:43:45 (permalink)
Zman's recipe sounds intriguing, and most of the things I do are mentioned here, but here's my recipe. Buy fresh ground chuck from a butcher you trust. The ground beef at the grocery store tastes like celery and won't do. Open the butcher paper and pull apart the chub of ground beef apart with your fingers. Add sea salt, fresh ground black pepper, and a modest amount of worcestershire sauce, then fold with the paper back into a chub. Divide into the # of burgers you're making and shape lightly into a ball, then squish. Don't worry about the "cracks" at the edge. Salt the outsides, doing the second side after flipping. I grill them on a Faberware grill in the lower (closer to the coil) position 24 minutes for medium and 18 minutes for medium rare, flipping only once halfway through. Add cheddar to flipped burgers about 6 minutes before they're done, 4 minutes for American cheese. Put buns, cut sides down, on the grill about 90 seconds before all is done, and no need for butter if they're fresh. Prepare yourself for compliments.

Zman, I like your idea of the seasoning, but I just can't get beyone that "vigorous" kneading. You rest a bread dough so the gluten will relax, amongst other things, but does meat "relax" in the same way? The scientific method requires someone else to try Zman's recipe and report back to us. Please do, someone!
#52
lleechef
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RE: What makes a juicy Hamburger? 2004/09/23 01:20:23 (permalink)
Actually, Zman does make a pretty MEAN burger, even with all that VIGOROUS kneeding! We don't always have them that way but when he has the time to prepare them the day before and let the meat "marinate" they are exceptional. The more you "smoosh" the ingredients together (VIROROUS KNEEDING) the better the meat is thoroughly seasoned.

As a side note, you don't rest bread dough so the gluten will relax. You only let the dough rest so the yeast will work and make it rise. When making bread, you want the maximum amount of gluten to come out of the flour, thus more kneeding is better. The more gluten that comes out of the kneeding of the flour in bread, the finer the air holes. This is why I mix up the bread dough and have The Big Guy kneed it! His fists and arms are my Mixer!! The only time one would want to "rest" any kind of dough would be in pastry making when you would want the MINIMUM of gluten, thus resulting in a very fine, flaky pastry. When I make a pate brisee, it must go into the fridge for an hour to "relax". For pastry making, I prefer "soft flour", usually pastry flour from France, for bread making I prefer King Arthur which is a harder flour and has lots of gluten and turns out a perfect loaf of bread every time.
Enuf about flour and it's properties..........I can make a testimonial about the Zman's burger recipe and can assure that it's AWESOME!!
#53
howard8
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RE: What makes a juicy Hamburger? 2004/09/23 13:03:58 (permalink)
I like 75/25 ground chuck.
I grill on a weber until medium rare with salt & pepper.
I find the 25 percent fat makes a moist and juicy and tasty burger.
Just made them last nite and had one with american, both sides of the bun have cheese, and one with an artisanal cheddar.
They were some of the juiciest best burgers I've had since the last time I did some grillin.
#54
Rusty246
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RE: What makes a juicy Hamburger? 2004/09/23 15:27:25 (permalink)
Another shrinkage/puffy middle trick. After you patty out your burgers invert the tip of a wooden spoon right through the center of the burger. All of the shrinkage concentration is on closing the hole, not shrinking of your burger as a whole. Really.
#55
Sundancer7
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RE: What makes a juicy Hamburger? 2004/09/23 15:33:36 (permalink)
quote:
Originally posted by Rusty246

Another shrinkage/puffy middle trick. After you patty out your burgers invert the tip of a wooden spoon right through the center of the burger. All of the shrinkage concentration is on closing the hole, not shrinking of your burger as a whole. Really.


I do not know if what Rusty is indicating and workable or not. I wish some other thoughts from Lleechef and her SO Z. This seems to be different to others who have posted not to touch the burger. Perhaps I misunderstood.

The message I have always used is that you do not touch the burger except turn it, not punch it. Please advise.

Paul E. smith
Knoxville, TN
#56
Rusty246
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RE: What makes a juicy Hamburger? 2004/09/23 15:39:50 (permalink)
quote:
Originally posted by Sundancer7

quote:
Originally posted by Rusty246

Another shrinkage/puffy middle trick. After you patty out your burgers invert the tip of a wooden spoon right through the center of the burger. All of the shrinkage concentration is on closing the hole, not shrinking of your burger as a whole. Really.


I do not know if what Rusty is indicating and workable or not. I wish some other thoughts from Lleechef and her SO Z. This seems to be different to others who have posted not to touch the burger. Perhaps I misunderstood.

The message I have always used is that you do not touch the burger except turn it, not punch it. Please advise.

Paul E. smith
Knoxville, TN


Well, let's say this, I read it in a magazine, tried it and it works. Hey, you're touching it when you patty it out, what's a little spoon poke(not punch)gonna hurt? Mr. Sundancer I'm shocked at your lack of adventure. Give it a try, you won't be sorry.
#57
Goose
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RE: What makes a juicy Hamburger? 2004/09/23 16:17:48 (permalink)
Mr. Sundancer:
it seems to me that you grilling on too high a heat. Try the Alton Brown method. Start out with medium low heat (I'm guessing you use gas, you seem like a gas kind of guy). Cook for about 3-4 minutes a side, (yes I know I'm breaking the flip once rule) then take the burgers off (or move to a cooler spot, and crank the heat as high as it will go. Let the grate get smoking hot. Then give the burgers a quick sear (30 seconds max) and enjoy.

You could also try the old james beard trick. Mix in a tablespoon of cream for every burger you are making. add the pat of butter in the middle. You want rich and juicy? You can'r handle rich and juicy.

Sorry.
#58
b-n-kchefservice
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RE: What makes a juicy Hamburger? 2004/09/23 17:24:08 (permalink)
I am not sure if anyone else mentioned this method because I didnt have time to read all replys but I have see and tried this method of adding about 2 tsp of butter into a pouch in the middle of the patty. extra healthy and delicious. Barry in MI
#59
Scarlett
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RE: What makes a juicy Hamburger? 2004/09/23 18:13:28 (permalink)
A neighbor of mine would put a couple of tablespoons of applesauce in the ground beef (along with a finely chopped onion)before making the patties. They were always delicious -- very moist and there was no flavor of the applesauce in the burgers.

But!
Sorry neighbor, the ones with the buns on top sound better..
#60
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