There’s nothing quite like a classic hamburger. It’s a no-fuss recipe, yet so delicious. Cooked ground meat, a fluffy bun that is toasted on the outside with some mayonnaise and ketchup-- now that’s a winning meal and an easy recipe to follow…
The hamburger is enjoyed around the world. There are many variations on the traditional recipe-- from Italian inspired to Asian inspired and many more takes on this beloved main dish. So many that you could try a new one every week.
Most burger cooking experts use ground chuck with at least 20 percent fat. Often, if you see meat labeled “hamburger meat” in the grocery store, that meat is likely to contain more fat than meat labeled “ground beef” but you should ask the butcher in order to be sure.
Ground meat is typically very affordable, which makes it a great option for feeding a large crowd or if you’re on a budget. Also, ground meat contains plenty of protein, iron and B vitamins.
Burger recipes differ from region to region in America. In some regions the standard burger is deep fried, in others, it’s steamed, and yet in other regions, it’s always cooked over an open flame. Depending on the region, different cuts of beef may be used as well as different types of cheeses. The hamburger is so beloved that there is even a special day to celebrate it. May 28 is known as National Hamburger Day. The date kicks off grilling season by honoring this backyard barbecue favorite. Not only do people love hamburgers, but
Origins of the Hamburger
There is debate over when, where and how the hamburger was invented. But the most common story we hear is that it originally came from Hamburg, Germany.
Ground meat has been served since before medieval times, but it was often served uncooked. When ground meat arrived in Hamburg, Germany around the early eighteenth century, chefs cooked the meat in a patty form and served it without a bun. This became known as the “Hamburg steak.” As immigrants came to America, the Hamburg steak increased in popularity. Eventually, in 1904 at the World's Fair in St. Louis, a food vendor from Texas sold the Hamburg Steak sandwiched between two pieces of bread and the hamburger we know and love today was born. The hamburger sandwich became even more popular when large chains like McDonald's and Burger King began selling them to the masses.
Bison and Other Ground Meats
Bison and lamb burgers have been increasingly popping up in grocery stores’ freezer sections as well as restaurant menus.
Bison burgers are made from the meat of the American bison. The meat is known for having less fat than hamburger meat while still being packed with flavor. You don’t need to add much to the meat to make it flavorful. Just season well and pop onto the grill or greased fry pan.
Ground lamb has a distinct flavor and is a nice change from the everyday burger. It is often sold frozen and pre-shaped, so if you want to make your own patties, you’ll need to find a cut of lamb you’d like to use for burgers and ask your local butcher to put it through the meat grinder. Lamb burgers are great topped with tzatziki or mint chutney.
Hamburger Meat Substitutions
If you don’t eat red meat or want to select a ground meat lower in cholesterol than beef, there are some favorite and tasty substitutions. Ground turkey and ground chicken can be found in most grocery stores. These ground meats are lower in fat; therefore your burgers will need some additional ingredients to make them juicy. We suggest adding a variety of vegetables to add moisture, like chopped red onion and zucchini, for instance. You can also shape the raw ground meat patty around a slice of cheese to add some extra flavor. Use seasonings like
Ways to cook your burger
Unless you’re using a nonstick pan, you'll want to add some oil, so the meat doesn't stick, especially if you're using lean ground beef. Ideally, a cast iron pan is best since it heats evenly, but it’s not necessary to have one to cook a burger well. Make sure the pan is hot before putting the burger in it-- start with medium heat. You want a nice sear on each side of the burger.
Burgers can be baked on a nonstick or parchment-lined cookie sheet or baking dish. If you have wire cooling racks for cookies, you can place your burgers on racks which are then placed onto your cookie sheet to give oven-baked burgers a flame-roasted taste and look. For easy clean-up, put aluminum foil on your cookie sheet. Be sure to preheat the oven.
There’s nothing quite like burgers cooked over an open flame. Make sure the grill is hot before putting burgers on the grill. Only flip the burger once and don’t mess with it while it’s cooking-- no smashing, reshaping or flipping over and over, which can make the end result less juicy.
Always add cheese at the last minute. You want the burger to cook first. You can use a variety of cheeses-- cheddar cheese is the classic burger cheese, but you can make your burger fancier by using a blue cheese or a creamy Brie.
The cooking time depends on your cooking method, the thickness of your burger and how well done or not you want the meat to be. Experiment with different times and thicknesses to create your ideal burger. You'll know it's done when the juices are no longer pink, however many people like medium-rare burgers in which case the meat inside would still be bright pink.
This is where you can get creative! Homemade aioli, fried onions, peanut butter-- we’ve seen it all on burgers, from the gourmet to the quirky. You may be pleasantly surprised by the many flavor profiles you can create with burger toppings. Experimenting with different types of cheeses can take your burger from standard cheddar to high-end restaurant quality with slices of Cambozola.
Be sure to warm the hamburger buns in the oven, in the skillet or on the grill. You can brush the buns with butter, oil or animal fat. Toast the buns long enough to give it some crunch. Depending on how large your burger is and how many toppings you’re using, you might want to consider using a bread other than the typical sesame seed hamburger bun. A Kaiser roll, potato bread roll or Kaiser roll are all good substitutes. You can also use grilled portabella mushrooms or large Swiss chard leaves or other green lettuce leaves if you’re avoiding bread.
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