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Old 05-26-2011, 07:07 AM   #21
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Thanks for all your suggestions, guys.

Today, I really worked the patty to get it fuse together. In the past, I would just take a ball of the ground meat, place it on the cutting board, and smash it down with my palm, while I iron out cracks and shape the outer rim of the patty.

But today, I shaped the patty in my hands. I just smacked it around, and I noticed far less cracking on the edges...

Usually when I smash the burger on the cutting board, it gets giant fissures and cracks, that I press back together... but I guess that was insufficient.

My burger patty today, looked rounder because I shaped it entirely in my hands and no flat surfaces were used. But it actually held together.

Not sure if this is because I had the burger refridgerated up until the cooking process... usually I let it rest at room temp, while I work on the prep/sauces/other components/etc.

I'm gonna make more burgers tomorrow, so we'll see...

Thanks again, everyone!

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Old 05-26-2011, 07:11 AM   #22
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This is a good read when it comes to burgers

The Burger Lab: Salting Ground Beef | A Hamburger Today

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Old 05-26-2011, 07:25 AM   #23
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Just to add a couple things;
I shape my patties on a cutting board, but of course I use my hands, too. I press with one hand and use a few fingers of the other to work the loose edges back into the main patty. To get rid of the cracks if I understood you correctly. In essence, I am compressing the patty from all its axes. Then I flip it over and do the same thing. Not super tight, but like I said before, just enough to hold it together. Actually, I usually put wax paper on the cutting board, then use a knife to cut the sections the patties are on. It makes it easy to plop them on the grill this way.

And, I've made hamburger out of chuck using my FP's blade. It certainly doesn't make that "noodle" look to the grind and is more of a pulp. I never notice a difference in my burgers holding together, but they do have a different texture.
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Old 05-26-2011, 07:34 AM   #24
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Originally Posted by rush View Post
Is there a scientific reasoning to why salt holds the moisture?

And if yes, why does a burger master like Flay warn against it?
Yes, salt retains moisture. The moisture is drawn to the salt. When you hear people warn againt salting meat to early this is the reason they give.

As to why Flay said to only salt the outside, the only thing I can say is that every is wrong from time to time. This is his time to be wrong. But don't take Flays word, or mine. Try it yourself. You will notice a HUGE difference. Like Jenny said, you salt because it improves the flavor. A burger salted throughout will taste much better than a burger with salt just on the exterior.
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Old 05-26-2011, 09:04 AM   #25
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the BurgerLab testing is certainly interesting - and the author appears to have gone to some lengths to isolate the effect of salt in "testing equally" - I'd say a really good job.

but my own experience does not fully agree with / support the BurgerLab's results - and there's one glaring difference: In two pounds of ground beef I use a fat pinch of kosher salt - I suspect about one tablespoon for (eventually) eight burgers - about one third the salt used in BurgerLab's testing. frankly, a teaspoon of salt in a 4-5 ounce burger does not appeal to my mental taste buds.

some years back, quite by accident (root cause: "we want burgers" - ground beef was frozen....) I developed my own "madness" to burger making - using a dough scraper, I chop up the beef and level it out over a cutting board - perhaps an inch thick. add salt, fg pepper, fine dice onion/leek/shallot/scallion plus diced green pepper or fine diced celery, a spritz of Worcestershire sauce, and one (size large) beaten egg (for two lbs of beef) sprinkled over the flattened beef.

using the dough scraper I fold and chop to get a reasonable homogeneous mixture - observing AB's "do not over work" advice. formed into a flat loaf, using the scraper it's easy to divide in half, and half again, and halves again, to get 8 more or less equal patties. they get hand formed, squished to equal thickness with the dough scraper, made tidy round and go back in the fridge for an hour (plus)

((I used to use a 10" chefs knife - but after cutting me fingers a couple time, the 'non edged' dough scraper seems an acceptable whimp out....))

I've noted: one large egg is too much for one pound of beef. the mix is too wet / loose; it will require some panko/bread crumbs to sop up the extra moisture.

I have ground my own. it's a pita because our counter tops are too thick to mount the old fashioned hand crank grinder. never used a food processor for grinding - got one, it's a pita to drag out & clean up. about 99.99% of the time I just buy ground beef - 10% or 15% fat, depending on market offerings / deals / sales.

btw the "keep it cold" theory of meat grinding is a widely accepted practice - from what I gather one does not want the fat globules to soften / melt but the preference seems to be keeping the fat as particles vs. "internal coating." one tv show featuring an old line butcher (Chicago...?) making their own sausages (okay, sausage is not a hamburger....) showed / explained how they shovel huge amounts of dry ice (frozen carbon dioxide/CO2 - minus 70'F in solid form) into the big rotating grinder to keep the mix cold. grinding generates heat (just rub your hands together....) and the theory is to keep the mix cold during the grind / mix process.....
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Old 05-26-2011, 11:08 AM   #26
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I guess I rank at the bottom of the list; i buy the premade burgers and keep them in the freezer.
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Old 05-26-2011, 11:18 AM   #27
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As far as salt retaining water, this also applies to human physiology. Most all sports drinks contain high does of sodium. Salt tablets also help certain individuals during extreme physical activity with excessive sweating.
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Old 05-26-2011, 11:20 AM   #28
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Originally Posted by MostlyWater View Post
I guess I rank at the bottom of the list; i buy the premade burgers and keep them in the freezer.
that'll work. I'd offer an opinion you might be missing some good flavors, but flavort is a matter of taste and there's no accounting for taste. what you find as "good" might not work here - and turned around. basically I go with "whatever works for you and yours" (g)

once upon a time I was envious of how all those commercial burger patties got so flat & even. meat "shrinks" on exposure to heat - so start big and fat, end up even fatter/thicker... hence my propensity to squash them out flatter & thinner with the dough scraper. but that approach does require some discipline / effort in making up the "pre-cooked patty" - perhaps an issue the home cook does not always observe.

the prepared frozen patties have not only been ground and seasoned, buy thenceforth "extruded" into patties. if "over-grinding" is an potential issue, (over)grinding and then "extruding" into a patty is a double-triple "offense" - but if it works for your crowd, go for it !
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Old 05-26-2011, 11:27 AM   #29
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Originally Posted by roadfix View Post
As far as salt retaining water, this also applies to human physiology. Most all sports drinks contain high does of sodium. Salt tablets also help certain individuals during extreme physical activity with excessive sweating.
eh, excuse me but drinking sodium-added sports drink during activity is NOT for retaining water. it's for resupplying the sodium lost from sweating, to keep balanced electrolyte in your body so that your nervous system can function
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Old 05-26-2011, 11:32 AM   #30
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the truth is, whether to add salt or how much salt to add totally depends on the eater. some people's tastebuds are not as sensitive as others and need salt to open them up. For myself, beef naturally contains enough sodium to make me taste saltiness (I can eat raw beef alone and enjoy the taste) and I don't need to add salt to it, except when the beef is processed/cooked in water. steaks are the same way for me. I only add salt to the surface to draw out some water-soluable protein in order to better form crust. this salt does not even alter the saltiness of the steak.

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