Cheeseburgers at home

Cheeseburgers at home

Even at age twenty-eight, I still haven’t figured out the thing about sunk cost. You know, cut your loses now before they get worse. In home cooking, sunk cost would be if you tried to make something and it doesn’t taste good. A rational way to look at it would be, “Hey, I should eat something else.” While someone like me would always say, “Just add some hot sauce and it’ll taste much better.” Luckily the last time I tried to make hamburgers at home, no hot sauce was necessary. I suppose if you’re really really into making burgers at home, you should consult the The Burger Lab over at Serious Eats. There’s some really good stuff in there about how to find the right blend of meats, how to grind your own, and even how to cook it sous vide. But damn yo, I can’t do all that. I just buy my ground beef from a grocery store, in this case, Trader Joe’s

From all the burger reading that I’ve done, it seems that everyone loves potato rolls for burger buns because they’re squishy and soft. Unfortunately I didn’t see that at TJ’s or at my local grocery store, so I opted for a really basic white bun that’s soft and squishy too. At Trader Joe’s they got ground beef that’s 85/15 in terms of lean/fat ratio and one that’s 80/20. Even though the ratio is lower than the 75/25 that many enthusiasts will say is necessary, I had no choice.

When I got home, I weighed the meat on a digital scale so one pound of meat turned into four patties. The burger lab taught me not to overwork the patties so I tried to touch them as little as possible. Two out of the four patties were formed into a cylinder so that they could be cooked using the smash technique. That’s where you take your patty, put it on the skillet, and the push down until it’s at an acceptable thickness and diameter compared to your bun. The third and fourth patties were formed just like a flat disk and weren’t smashed after they hit the skillet.

For cheese I picked Kraft Singles. Once again, The Burger Lab said Kraft is pretty good and gets melty fast, so I was all about that.

So one of the burgers that I cooked was left on the skillet too long and the cheese melted to a point where it just completely enveloped the patty. And there was some burnt cheese on the skillet too. But you can see how the cheese covers all the little ridges of the burger. Yum.

The one thing about making burgers at home is that if you want to get a nice outside crust, you gotta get your pan really really hot. The side effect of getting your pan/skillet really really hot is that your apartment will smell like burgers. You will smell like burgers. Your girlfriend will be like, “WTF is with all the smoke?” Seriously, when you get your pan really hot and you got your burger cooking on there, it just makes your whole life smell like burgers. I’m not saying that’s a drawback or anything like that, provided you want the sweet scent of beef on you.

I can’t tell you if the smash method works better than just forming your meat into regular disc-shaped patties. Why? Because I started with the smash technique and my apartment was just completely coated in beef perfume. So I didn’t cook the second batch of burgers in such high heat and the smoke issue was kept at bay. The crunch factor went away with the smoke though… so it’s up to you what’s more important. An apartment that smells ok or a burger with crispy charred bits on the outside. I think there has to be a good balance in there somewhere…

Posted by Danny on November 16, 2010 at 11:52 pm

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