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Old 02-03-2012, 01:53 PM   #21
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Everything I've read says that makes for tough burgers.

The culinary world is full of rules of thumb and conventional wisdom that everybody believes, but nobody reality tests. I believe this is one of them.

I've made burgers both ways, and never noticed any toughness when salt was added to the meat.

In general---whether we're talking burgers or steaks---salting should be done to the outside just before the meat is cooked. Otherwise, the salt will draw moisture out of the meat---and that can result in dryness and toughness.
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Old 02-03-2012, 01:57 PM   #22
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I too have discovered that you don't want to use premium grade ground beef. You need fat to make hamburgers taste good. And I too make the middle thinner than the edges.

I cook mine on a grill. I don't smash them because that's the common wisdom (whether it's right or wrong) and because juices come out and that seems intuitively obvious to be a bad thing (although that too may be right or wrong).

I guess I do them the way I do them because that works fine for me. No reason to change.

By the way, I think hamburgers are the average amateur chef's best chance to cook something at home as good or better than dining out. Fresh good ingredients cooked at home are a winning combination, and even better that they come out exactly the way you like them.

I warm the buns on the grill too. I like nice browning marks on the inside faces.
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Old 02-03-2012, 02:02 PM   #23
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I guess I do them the way I do them because that works fine for me.

Which, when all is said and done, is the only thing that matters---no matter what you are cooking.
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Old 02-03-2012, 02:10 PM   #24
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Everything I've read says that makes for tough burgers.

The culinary world is full of rules of thumb and conventional wisdom that everybody believes, but nobody reality tests. I believe this is one of them.
Right. Here is someone who has actually tested it.

The Burger Lab: Salting Ground Beef | A Hamburger Today
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Old 02-03-2012, 02:12 PM   #25
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I agree, but I only salt burgers immediately before grilling them. The guys I'm talking about actually mixed the salt into the ground beef before forming the patties and putting them on the grill. Everything I've read says that makes for tough burgers.
I mix in salt all the time and dont think they are tough. They taste a lot better, too.
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Old 02-03-2012, 02:15 PM   #26
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GB dry brines his steaks!

As Jenny said, always salt before cooking. With steak in particular you want to do it early. There is a technique called dry brining and it is the only way I cook steaks now. What you do is liberally salt both sides of the steak and then wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Let sit in the fridge for 24 hours. You can get away with just a few hours if you are pressed for time. Initially the salt draws moisture out, but then that moisture disolves the salt and that salty liquid is then reabsorbed by the meat. The result is that you end up seasoning the steak from the inside out instead of just seasoning the outside. Once you try this method you will be hooked.


As Ms. Rodgers and Mr. Wolke explained, when salt encounters protein, the protein changes shape on a molecular level. In its new form, it can absorb more water than normal and softens. So a salted piece of meat can taste juicier and more tender than an unsalted one. If the meat is not too heavily salted, nor left to dry very long, what little drying results may also improve the flavor. The trick to keeping a presalted steak from turning gray is simply to pat the surface with paper towels just before you put it on the grill, to dry off any moisture.
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Old 02-03-2012, 02:25 PM   #27
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I mix in salt all the time and dont think they are tough. They taste a lot better, too.
Note that I'm not disagreeing with you or anyone here. Only that "conventional wisdom" and the "test" I linked to above says otherwise.
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Old 02-03-2012, 02:29 PM   #28
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Interesting. And, proving once again, that for any question there is a techie looking for an answer. Not always practical, but an answer nevertheless.

That aside: a teaspoon of salt for each patty? Not in this household. We want to taste meat, not salt. Maybe that's why no burger I've ever cooked looked like his.

Also, take a close look at his final comparison pix. I don't think it has anything to do with salt, but his "good" version is not cooked evenly at all. Wonder what's behind that?
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Old 02-03-2012, 02:36 PM   #29
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That aside: a teaspoon of salt for each patty? Not in this household. We want to taste meat, not salt. Maybe that's why no burger I've ever cooked looked like his.
I agree. That's very heavy handed. I salt burgers more by feel than taste, but I would bet I use less than a teaspoon for an entire pound. And I like salt.
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Old 02-03-2012, 02:45 PM   #30
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That sounds about what I do, Steve. Maybe a teaspoon in a pound of meat?
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