Yesterday, hubby and I got a hankering to grill outside — we’ve been having pleasant weather here (my apologies to those of you who haven’t been), and we decided on hamburgers. Or, more appropriately, cheeseburgers, as we always dress them with cheese.
Hamburgers — and hot dogs — are closely associated with summer cookouts. They’re typically thought of as an easy main for a crowd, though truth be told, I find them to be a lot more work than many other dishes, mainly because of the prep (seasoning and shaping the patties) and preparing/making available the assortment of condiments usually desired to dress the burgers: cheese (mayhaps a choice of cheeses, such as American, cheddar, Swiss, Pepper jack, etc.), mustard, mayo or salad dressing, ketchup, perhaps BBQ sauce or steak sauce (a hamburger with steak sauce is d-i-v-i-n-e!), sliced pickles, lettuce, sliced tomato, sliced or diced onion…if you want to get fancy (and sometimes we do!), you may also want to include sliced avocado, bacon (turkey bacon for us) for a bacon burger, sautéed mushrooms and/or green bell pepper strips, jalapeños…honestly, the variety and combo of potential dressing is almost endless…and endlessly delicious! 😉
There are several variations I do on hamburgers that hubby and I enjoy — including turkey burgers — but just my basic hamburger is our favorite. I “healthy” this dish up by
- using lean meat — I use at least 93/7 ground beef,
- employing lean cooking methods,
- reading labels to pick out the most nutritionally advantageous bun (at least to me) that is available (my favorite is WhiteWheat buns — just 100 calories and 4 grams of fiber per bun, but those aren’t always available), and
- trying to serve nutritious sides (favorites include baked beans, pasta-bean salad, light versions of coleslaw, lightened potato salad, and/or grilled veggies, such as zucchini — ‘though we’ll sometimes bake up frozen fries or tater tots, too 😉 ).
Typically, when we make burgers, we make up a whole mess of ’em, as we say down here in the South — that gives us leftovers for another meal or two. (And BTW, a leftover hamburger can make a quick, easy, and change-of-pace protein-filled breakfast, if you’re so inclined.) You can also freeze leftover hamburger patties — and buns, too, for that matter, ‘though I would freeze them separately — and have a tasty, fresh burger ready for you the next time you want one.
HINT #1 ABOUT (GRILLING) BURGERS: To help your burger “keep it together” on the grill, freeze the patties for an hour or few beforehand — that will greatly reduce the likelihood of your patty crumbling on the grill.
HINT #2 ABOUT (MAKING) BURGERS: Wear disposable gloves when shaping the patties. 🙂
We generally grill ours, but if you don’t have a grill or if the weather’s not conducive to grilling, that’s just fine — you can broil or bake them in the oven, cook them in a non-stick skillet, or — best of all! — grill them on your stovetop in a grill pan, if you have one. (A grill pan is an awesome pan to have in your pantry — when the weather’s too hot, too cold, or otherwise not conducive to grilling outdoors, a grill pan enables you to enjoy grilled food without having to put a toe outside your door.) Oh, and of course, if you have an electric grill — such as a George Foreman grill — you can cook them that way, too! 🙂
I like a nice, juicy, 1/3 pound burger (that gives me the wee extra bit of protein boost I need), so when we make up a mess of burgers, I get 3 pounds of ground beef and make up 9 burgers.
Well…sometimes I’ll reheat it and eat with steak sauce, like a hamburger steak, and eat it along with a salad and/or a half of a baked potato or some such. Another favorite thing is to use it to make a “patty melt” (think grilled cheese sandwich but with a hamburger patty).
No worries — that ninth patty gets put to good use. 🙂
A word about the cheese: A lot of folks melt the cheese onto the burger as the last step before taking it off the grill. And that’s okay, if you’re going to eat that burger right then — and if you don’t mind having some of the cheese ooze off the patty and drip into your grill…and goo onto the platter. Myself, though, I like to apply the cheese as the burger is assembled, because 1) it lets the burger-eater have freedom of choice in the type of cheese and 2) leftover patties are MUCH easier to reheat sans cheese.
Tried and True Basic Hamburger Patties (Makes 9 patties)
- 3 pounds lean (suggest 93/7) ground beef
- Seasonings to taste: garlic powder, onion powder, coarse ground black pepper, and Worcestershire sauce
- Empty meat into a medium to large-sized bowl.
- Season to taste with Worcestershire sauce, garlic powder, onion powder, and coarse ground black pepper. (I usually put one pound of meat in the bowl at a time and sprinkle seasonings on each pound of meat as I go.)
- Lightly mix meat together to distribute seasonings.
- Divide mixture into 9 equal portions. (I use a food scale, but I’m a bit anal retentive and compulsive with such things. 😉 )
- Shape into patties. Depress the center of each patty a bit; this will help promote even cooking.
- IF GRILLING, place on waxed-paper lined cookie sheet or platter and place in freezer to freeze for a bit before grilling. Two (or more) layers of patties, separated by waxed paper, is just fine.
- Grill (or broil or bake or skillet/griddle fry) to desired doneness.
- If desired, grill the buns, as well: spread the “sandwich side” (the “inside”) of each bun with a bit of light margarine — I like to use calcium-enriched Shedd Spread — and grill or toast.
- Dress as desired and enjoy! Store leftovers in the ‘fridge.
These are so yummy, you’ll have to keep an eye out for the Hamburglar — who’s ever- watchful for the Burger Police, don’t you know! 😉