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Friday, March 09, 2007

Real Hamburgers - Back To Basics

When I started Help! I Have A Fire In My Kitchen and all along I have said, this is first and foremost a blog for those who really have no idea how to handle the mysteries in the kitchen. This past week the need for a bit of a return to basics became crystal clear in my house.

I have become a bit "too used to" buying frozen hamburgers in the Supermarket and then just throwing them in the oven to cook. Now while I do make sure they are labeled 100% meat and have no chemical junk inside, last week I happened to taste one of these wonders of modern food science - and that, as they say, was that. The various burger joints are much more pleasing to the palette than what I tasted.

Additionally, a great many "real" burger restaurants have opened up in Jerusalem, where they are serving some really good fare. BUT unless you can afford restaurant prices every night then this is not a long-term option.

There is one other point. When I was growing up in Manhattan, when supper was burgers, the burgers made by the woman who I always refer to as my second Mother, Thelma, were the most delicious hamburgers ever made on this planet. Indeed, anything Thelma cooked far outweighs any delicacy I have ever tasted.

But I am stubborn. And I know you can make a good, healthy burger. And I know people will eat good, healthy burgers and gobble them up! So for the Purim Seudah (the festive meal we eat on Purim - I made hamburgers - wanting to see what the reaction would be.)

I used 2.2 pounds (1 Kilo) of pure chopped meat for the burgers. The picture below represents one plate of 4 small burgers made a bit differently. And I will explain why in the recipe. But, this recipe is about going back to basics. There are no fancy tricks here. No great slights of the chef hand. This is how you can make great, healthy burgers for your family - and with a bit of imagination really add to the recipe and make a zillion different types of burgers with little or no effort.

Real Hamburgers

Burgers - Help! I Have A Fire In My Kitchen

Utensils Required:
  1. 2 Clean Hands
  2. Mixing Bowl
  3. Big Fork, Spoon or Flat Spatular
  4. Aluminum Foil
Ingredients: (This is based on 2 pounds - 1 Kilo of meat)
  1. 3 eggs - adds richness to meat (you can use just one egg if you are really worried!)
  2. Quarter to half cup of finely ground bread crumbs (from Supermarket) - adds consistency to the meat
  3. 1 Finely chopped onion
  4. 2 Pounds - (1 Kilo of pure ground meat) Completely Defrosted
  1. Place the meat in your mixing bowl.
  2. Drop in the three eggs and mix it all up.
  3. Put in the quarter cup of bread crumbs and mix it all up.
  4. Now the finely chopped onion - and mix it up.
  5. (Was that simple or was that simple?!!!)
  6. Okay - now the caveat - one of my daughters does not like eating anything with oil in it. (Diets etc.) And here is where you have to sacrifice if you have a child like this. Normally, you should place the aluminum foil on an oven pan and then put a very fine layer of oil on the foil so the meat does not stick to it. But I had to make most of the meat without the oil. Thus I did have some meat sticking to the foil at the end, (gave it to Rainbow, our Golden Retriever) and it did not make for the prettiest burgers in the world. BUT there was no oil and the burgers were all gone by the end of the meal. So if you do not have this problem now is the time to put that fine layer of oil - just a teeny weeny drop of it on the foil. (The picture above contains 4 small burgers I made with oil on the foil!)
  7. If you are more adept at this than I am, take a small handful of meat and pat it down and make it round for the burger - (My burgers never come out round. Sheesh!) Remember - around the size of mid-size palm and 1/4- 1/2 inch thick.
  8. The fatter the burgers are - the LOWER the temperature in your oven must be and the longer it will take to make them as you must attempt to have even cooking. Obviously the meat inside has to cook too without burning the meat on the outside first! Fat burgers just take patience - nothing more. (In my house we like medium - rare meat. I cannot touch well-done!) So if you are not experienced make the burgers medium sized. Don't go for the fat burgers just yet even though they are scrumptious!)
  9. Place all the burgers on the foil on the oven pan.
  10. Your oven should be at approximately 180 degrees Celsius (350 Far.) NO MORE! We want to cook these burgers not BURN THEM.
  11. 10 minutes for the first side - turn em over 8 minutes for the other side. 18 minutes burgers are done.
  12. Start to finish this whole process should take no more than 30 minutes if that much!
By the way - this recipe is great for Passover - just get rid of the bread crumbs and substitute Matzoh Meal! And of course make sure the oil is one you can eat on Passover.

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Two stars for difficulty because there is an oven involved and timing. You can obviously play with this recipe. Add fresh ground garlic - or in a pinch garlic and onion salt. If you want, you can add a bbq sauce of your liking as well. Basil etc. are all good additions to the meat. The list is really endless and goes according to your imagination. But you really will never go wrong with a back-to-basic Hamburger. (And they are zillions times healthier even with the eggs, than any junk you buy in junk-fast-food places.) When you get experience make the real big fat burgers - with patience and a knowledge of your quirky oven - I will guarantee that you will be asked to make your "great" burgers again and again. I love easy - especially when CSI or Law & Order are going to be on TV!)

6 Fire Comments - Click To Post A Comment:

B.E. Sanderson said...

This looks good, Teddy. Just one thing to add, though. Here in the states, burger comes in different grades - depending on their fat content. The higher the ratio, the better for you the burger is. Most standard ground beef known as hamburger is 80% lean (20% fat). The best for you burger (at least that I've seen in stores) is 92% lean. Pick the burger that's right for your diet. Personally, for burgers, I try to go with 85% lean - because it's the fat that makes it juicy, but too much fat means the burgers are swimming. For any other burger recipe, I try to buy the 92% lean.

And if you're feeling really health conscious - try substituting ground turkey. =oD

Paula and Elwood's Poetic Palace said...

Amazingly enough, I add the same ingredients more or less to my burgers.. the secret for rounder, firmer packed burgers is this:

When you have all of your ingredients mixed well, pick up the wad of meat and pack it.. this you do by holding it and sort of smack it together several times until it packs, then just pull off the amount for each burger and continue to pat it together by cupping your hands over it while sort of squeezing it together.. go ahead an laugh, my own mother laughs at me but it works.

b.e. sanderson, I have made turkey burgers and they are delicious. I just add peppers and seasoning to them as well. It makes for a nice lean delicious burger.

Deborah Dowd said...

A good homemade burger will keep you from ever being satisfied with the fats-food type. I sometimes add the powdered ranch dressing mix but since I think it includes some type of powdered milk product, it wouldn't be Kosher. However, a little Worcestshire sauce an a bit of onion powder really add a nice flavor too. A smidge(technical food term meaning a very littl bit-a drop or two) of liquid smoke will give your oven cooked burgers that outdoor grilled taste,too.

ruthEbabes said...

How many burgers should you have at the end when you use 2 pounds of meat?

Your Corona Story said...


Depends on the size actually. What I described here (small sizes) will let you end up with between 10-14 burgers. You make them a bit bigger and obviously the amount of burgers will go down. Based upon the picture which was the basic size of the burgers I had 14 burgers from exactly 1 kilo (2.2 pounds) and the addition of eggs and bread crumbs.

Hope that helps


ruthEbabes said...

That's great thanks Ted