Thursday, June 21, 2012

Recipe: Foolproof Backyard Burgers

School's out, summer is here, and it's THE time for casual barbecues. I thought I'd share this recipe for the best homemade hamburgers I've ever had. Note that these burgers beat most restaurant burgers as well, IMO. (And my mother-in-law says it's better than the original burger at Johnny Rockets.) We've made this recipe three times in the last month alone, and each time reaffirmed why we love this recipe so much.

The spiciness of garlic and the tanginess of steak sauce make for a fantastic flavor combination, and the bread-and-milk mixture makes for juicy and tender meat. This recipe is recommended only for medium-well to well-done burgers (any less cooked and they might not have the right texture).

It's easy to double or quadruple this recipe, and we usually do just so we can eat leftovers. They're that good, even reheated. Because I'm not a bread person, I often eat only the burger itself without a bun. My preschooler eschews the bread as well, and he likes to break up his burger into bite-sized pieces so he can eat it like finger food. I dip mine in a mixture of ketchup, mayo, and mustard, and eat a side of lettuce with it for my meal. My husband likes his the traditional way, with meat, cheese, lettuce, ketchup, and mustard sandwiched between two hamburger buns.

Note that these particular patties are third-pounders rather than quarter-pounders. They cook well either size.

Foolproof Backyard Burgers
Serves 4
(adapted from an America's Test Kitchen recipe, shared on a network morning show several years ago)

  • 1 pound good-quality ground beef (we use 75/25 grass-fed ground beef but you can definitely go leaner)
  • 1 large slice good-quality white sandwich bread, crust removed and discarded; or 1 side of a hamburger bun. Chop or crumble bread into 1/4-inch pieces (about 1/2 cup)
  • 2 tablespoons whole milk
  • 1 medium garlic clove, minced or pressed through garlic press (about 1 teaspoon)
  • 2 teaspoons steak sauce (we use A1)
  • 1/2 teaspoon table salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

  1. Using a large chimney starter, ignite 6 quarts charcoal (about 100 briquettes) and burn until covered with thin coating of light gray ash, about 20 minutes. Empty coals into grill; build modified two-level fire by arranging coals to cover half of grill. Position cooking grate over coals, cover grill, and heat grate for 5 minutes; scrape grate clean with grill brush. Grill is ready when coals are medium-hot (you can hold your hand 2 inches above grate for 3 to 4 seconds).
  2. Meanwhile, mash bread and milk in large bowl with fork until homogeneous (you should have about 1/4 cup). Stir in salt, pepper, garlic, and steak sauce.
  3. Break up beef into small pieces over bread mixture. Using fork or hands, lightly mix together until mixture forms cohesive mass. Divide meat into four equal portions. Gently toss one portion of meat back and forth between hands to form loose ball. Gently flatten into 1/2-inch-thick patty. Press center of patty down with fingertips, creating slight depression in each patty. Repeat with remaining portions of meat.
  4. Grill burgers on hot side of grill, uncovered, until well seared on first side, 2 to 4 minutes. Using wide metal spatula, flip burgers and continue grilling, about 3 minutes for medium-well or 4 minutes for well-done. (Add cheese, if using, about 2 minutes before reaching desired doneness.)

If you try this recipe, let me know in the comments how you like it. And do share your own favorite burger recipes as well! I'm always looking for interesting new recipes. :-)


xo, Gladys


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