Kathy Maister's Start Cooking

Recipe: How to Make a Hamburger

print recipe card posted in Main Dishes by Kathy Maister
Difficulty:

The basis of a hamburger is, of course, the ground beef from which you make the “patties.”

In preparing the patties, I have tried all sorts of “add-ins” to mix with the beef – everything from dried onion soup mix, to eggs, to bacon fat, to grated cheese . The absolute best to add is…nothing at all! Why dilute that pure beefy taste?

When making your own hamburgers, start with 1 ¼ pounds of ground beef with 20% fat content. This will be enough for four big patties.

Normally I buy a lesser fat content, but for really tasty burgers, get the 20%.

(Using clean hands!) Divide the beef into four sections. Gently form each section into a round “patty” shape. It’s not necessary to tightly pack the beef into shape. In fact, you should try to handle the beef as little as possible.

Each patty should measure approximately ¾ inches thick and 4 ½ inches across.

Wrap the extra patties in plastic wrap and freeze them for next week’s dinner.

Before you start cooking the hamburgers, toast the cut side of the rolls. (Untoasted rolls get soggy very quickly.) Lay the rolls out on a baking sheet with sides and put them under the broiler.

It will only take a minute or two, so don’t do anything but stand there with pot holder in your hand, ready to remove the rolls from the oven. (They go from beautifully toasted to burnt in the blink of an eye. Then the smoke alarm goes off and ….you know the rest!)

Preheat your fry pan (on medium- high temperature) by putting a few drops of water in the pan. By the time they have evaporated, your pan will be hot.

Make sure the fry pan you are using is large enough to hold your hamburgers without squishing them together.

Cook the hamburgers (on medium-high) on one side then flip them once, and then cook them on the other side.

Cooking times on each side:

  • 3 minutes for RARE (caution-see note below!)
  • 4 minutes for MEDIUM
  • 5 minutes for WELL DONE

If you want to make a cheeseburger, place a slice of cheese on the flip side about 1 minute before the burgers are done cooking. The heat from the hamburgers will melt the cheese.

Serve your hamburgers with sliced tomatoes, lettuce, a dollop of mayonnaise and some salt and pepper.

Add some variation to your hamburger recipes thanks to this Tex-Mex cheeseburger video!

Enjoy!

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Note:

Rare, medium or well done Hamburgers?

The USDA recommends that you always cook hamburgers so that the internal temperature reaches 160 degrees which is well done.

A friend from Canada describes why:

“…one thing I’ve learned from working in the food service industry (McDonald’s in Canada, in my case) for over 15 years is that the only safe way to cook hamburgers is to make sure they are fully cooked, not rare. This eliminates the possibility of there being any harmful bacteria in the burger – in particular, E. coli.In fact, it is standard practice at McDonald’s in Canada to verify a safe internal temperature with the first run of the products from the grill, before anything gets served to the customers. In my area, the minimum safe temperature for cooked beef patties is 156 degrees F. It may vary in other locations – in some areas, the safe temperature is 160 degrees, for example.”

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How to Buy and Store Ground Beef

posted in Meat, Poultry and Seafood by Kathy Maister

There must be at least 10 million different ways to cook ground beef! Here at startcooking.com I have many recipes for the beginner cook using ground beef.

Tex-Mex Cheeseburgers, Chili, English Muffin Pizzas, and Beef With Bow Ties and Beans are just a few of the recipes here that start with ground beef.

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Chili Anyone?

Buying Ground Beef

The first thing you will notice when you go to the meat section of your grocery store is that there are a wide variety of different packages of what all looks like ground beef, but with different prices. In most cases, the pricing is directly related to different levels of fat content. Generally, the lower the fat content, the higher the cost will be per pound. The fat content is indicated by the numbers on the package.

I usually buy what’s called 85/15, which is the ratio of beef — in this case, 85 percent — to fat, which is 15 percent here. This ratio gives me the taste and texture I like when I’m cooking.

Many people who are watching their fat intake purchase ground beef with a 90/10 fat content ratio. I find that ratio to be a bit dry, but each to his own! My trick is to use the 85/15 beef, but drain off the fat after I have browned the beef. Put a small bowl beneath the colander to catch the fat and then throw it away in the trash. DO NOT PUT THE FAT DOWN THE DRAIN as you may end up clogging your pipes!

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Storing Ground Beef

You should use or freeze ground beef within 2 days of buying it. Remove the beef from the store packaging and double wrap it in plastic wrap / freezer wrap to protect it from “freezer burn.”

Frozen ground beef should be used within three to four months of purchase. After that, I’d definitely recommend throwing it away!. The US Department of Agriculture guidelines say that even properly frozen food can deteriorate in taste and nutritional value if stored too long in the freezer.

If meat (or bread or even ice cream) has been in the freezer too long, the food gets very dried out and develops white edges. It not only looks awful but the taste and texture will be pretty bad as well.

Another “must” before freezing, is to label and date the package. You’d be amazed at how long unmarked packages take up residence in the freezer!

I also flatten and stack frozen foods. They take up less space plus it’s easier to find things this way.

http://startcooking.com/public/IMG_6963.jpg

Frozen Mushroom Gravy, Chicken Gravy, Sweet Potatoes and Pureed Squash and Ground Beef

Be sure to check out my video on How to Brown Ground Beef and How to Thaw Ground Beef.

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Frying Onions

print recipe card posted in Vegetables and Beans, Vegetarian by Kathy Maister
Difficulty:

Frying onions inevitably results in someone saying “what smells so good”?

I’m going to show you how to fry onions two ways. First, we’ll fry (or “sauté”) the onions very quickly on a high heat. Second, we’ll “caramelize” the onions, which means frying them very slowly on a very low heat.

Sauteed Onions & Caramelized Onions

Sautéed onions have a slightly crispy outside and a very soft center. Caramelized onions are very soft and very sweet. You don’t need to add anything to make them sweet, since the natural sweetness of the onion develops through the slow cooking process.

This post is going to be a slightly longer than normal, since I am going to be showing you two different techniques.

Both approaches to cooking the onions require the same ingredients to start: – onions, butter, olive oil and salt and pepper.

For 2-to-4 servings of the sautéed onions you will need:

  • 2 Tablespoons of olive oil, butter, or a combination of both
  • 4 medium onions
  • Salt and Pepper

I have already discussed how to peel an onion, as well as how to slice an onion. Because we are slicing so many onions you may want to stick them in the refrigerator for about 20 minutes before you start peeling and slicing them. That way, they won’t bother your eyes as much.

Using a sharp knife, slice the onions into ¼ inch, or smaller, slices.

Melt the olive oil or the olive oil & butter combination, in a very large fry pan over medium high heat. Be careful not to burn the butter! If it starts to smoke, turn down the heat!

Add the onions.

Quickly cook the onions, moving them around the pan with a wooden spoon or spatula. It should take no more than 10 minutes at the most for the onions to get nicely browned.

These onions are great on hamburgers, steaks, mashed potatoes or just as a delicious side dish.

How to Make Caramelized Onions

To make caramelized onions you will need time but not a tremendous amount of cooking skill. You will also need:

  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • 2 Tablespoons of olive oil
  • 3 pounds of onions
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup of dry white wine or water
  • Grated Parmesan Cheese

By the time you finish caramelizing the onions they will have cooked down to about half their size.

Peel and slice the onions.

In a really large fry pan melt the butter and olive oil over really low heat. Add the onions to the pan

Sprinkle on 1 teaspoon of salt.

Cook the onions over the lowest heat possible for about 1 hour. (Yikes! That’s a long time!) Don’t be tempted to increase the heat. You can not speed up this process. Over the course of 1 hour they should not turn brown. Be sure to give them an occasional stir. This is what they will look like after 15 minutes of cooking.

This is after 30 minutes of cooking.

This is after 45 minutes of cooking.

After about one hour increase the heat to medium and cook, stirring constantly, until the onions are well browned. That could take another 25 minutes. There will be a lot of brown bits stuck on the bottom of the pan. Those bits are full of flavor. To get them off the bottom of the pan and incorporated into the onions turn off the stove and pour ½ cup of dry white wine (or water) into the pan.

After the wine is added turn the stove back on. This will ensure the alcohol doesn’t catch fire and flame up.

The wine will dissolve all the bits and make the onions even darker.

Now remove them from the heat. Add salt and ground pepper and even a sprinkle of grated Parmesan cheese.

Caramelized onions are great on their own or can be added to stews and sauces.

Enjoy!

Adapted from: Joy of Cooking

Sauté Onions Ingredients:

(2-4 Servings)

  • 2 Tablespoons of olive oil, butter, or a combination of both
  • 4 medium onions
  • Salt and Pepper

Caramelized Onions Ingredients

(makes about 4 cups)

  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • 2 Tablespoons of olive oil
  • 3 pounds of onions
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup of dry white wine or water
  • Grated parmesan cheese

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