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!
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.”
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.
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!
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.
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.
When I’m making deviled eggs for a buffet table, I sometimes think perhaps they are a bit old-fashioned and outdated. Then, when the party is over, the deviled egg platter is always empty!
To make deviled eggs, in addition to the eggs, you will need mayonnaise, mustard, salt and pepper, and green olives stuffed with pimentos for flavor as well as garnish.
The first step is to hard-cook (what some people call ‘boil‘) six eggs.
If you are unsure of how to boil an egg, check out my 30 second video for a quick review!
If you’ve just cooked the eggs, let them cool to room temperature before peeling them. Actually, cold, hard boiled eggs, just out of the refrigerator, are much easier to peel than just cooked eggs. If you are having trouble peeling the eggs, crack the shell at the ends of each egg and put them in a bowl of ice cold water. Let the eggs sit in the cold water about 10 minutes. This allows the water to seep in and make peeling much easier.
Once all the eggs are peeled, slice them in half lengthwise.
Using a spoon or a fork, gently remove the yolks from the whites and place the all the yolks in a bowl. Set the whites on your serving dish.
I’m using my deviled egg dish which has grooves in it to hold the eggs in place for serving. If you do not have a deviled eggs dish you could put them on a bed of washed parsley so they not only look festive but the parsley will also prevent the eggs from sliding all over the place.
To make the filling, mix together the 6 yolks, add ¼ cup of mayonnaise, 1 ½ Tablespoons of mustard, and a sprinkle of salt and pepper.
(There are many variations to making deviled eggs including skipping the mustard and using horseradish OR curry powder OR even sweet relish.)
With a fork, mix all of this together until it’s smooth. Taste it to make sure it doesn’t need more salt.
Using two small spoons, fill the egg white shells with the yolk mixture. You’ll need one spoon to scoop up some yolk and the other to slide it off the spoon. (Or as Bill suggested in the comments section below, put the mixture into a small Ziploc bag, cut off a corner, and pipe it back into the whites.)
Sliced olives with red pimentos are a traditional garnish for deviled eggs – plus it’s a great flavor combination. A sprinkle of paprika, if you have some in your spice cupboard, is also a lovely garnish on deviled eggs!
Deviled eggs make a great appetizer and a perfect party dish.
P.S. Once you have mastered making hard boiled eggs you might want to give an egg salad sandwich a try!