Beef or Lamb, Elaine Walker

Best Burgers (Hamburgers)

1 pound ground chuck (20% fat) Do not substitute other types of ground beef.
1/4 teaspoon salt

Prepare right before grilling – not ahead of time. Get your grill or burner hot before beginning.

Put the ground beef in a bowl. Lightly break up the meat with your hands and sprinkle evenly with the salt. (Note: use only 1/4 teaspoon. This much helps prevent loss of the burger juices and keeps the burgers from following apart. However, too much salt causes the beef to congeal.)

After you’ve seasoned the meat, divide it into 4 or 5 sections* and with lightly cupped hands, shape into patties. As soon as the patties hold together, stop! Over handling will cause the beef to become rubbery when cooked.

Make a shallow indentation in the center of each patty. This keeps the burger flat and prevents the formation of a “bubble burger” when cooking.

*Note: Burgers should be 1/2 to 3/4 inches thick for best cooking. Thicker burgers tend to char on the outside but still be bloody on the inside.

Gas Grill: Turn the grill on. Scrape off any debris with a grill brush. Grab a wad of paper towels with a pair of long-handled tongs and dip them in a bowl of vegetable oil. When the towels have absorbed the oil, run them over the cleaned grill grate. The oil will burn off at first. Continue to dip the towels into oil and slick down the grate; it will become “nonstick.” When the grate turns black and glossy, your grill is good to go.

Put the burgers on the grill.

Flip the burgers just once—after they’ve developed deep brown grill marks—and don’t be tempted to press on them. Pressing down on the burgers as they cook squeezes out the flavorful juices, which end up in your grill (causing flare-ups) instead of in your burgers.

Hamilton Beach Electric Grill: Do not use oil or non-stick spray. It will smoke and smell. Pre-heat on Sear for 10 minutes (regardless of red/green light status). Add burgers, cover and cook for 4 minutes. Turn over, reduce heat to 400, cover and cook for another 3 – 5 minutes until interior meat temperature is 135 degrees Fahrenheit for medium burgers. If making cheeseburgers, wait until burger has about 1-2 minutes left of cooking time before adding cheese.

Take the temperature in the center of each burger with an instant-read thermometer.
Medium Rare: 125 to 130 degrees, 2 to 3 minutes per side
Medium: 135 to 140 degrees, 3 to 4 minutes per side
Medium Well: 145 to 160 degrees, 4 to 5 minutes per side
Well Done: 160 degrees and up, 5 minutes and up per side