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Old 11-15-2007, 04:35 PM   #1
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Jeffrey Steingarten's 8 steps to hamburger perfection

I didn't know about any of these. Looks tasty

1. Chill Out: "Before grinding chunks of beef, before forming a hamburger, and before cooking a hamburger, make sure that the beef is ice cold. Otherwise, the fat may melt and separate from the lean."
2. Grind or Else: Steingarten concludes you must either grind your own meat or have a trusted butcher grind it for you, for reasons of taste and safety (or, perish the thought, be sentenced to a life of consuming well-done burgers). "Never buy supermarket ground beef unless the butcher there grinds it specially for you." He explains in painstaking detail all of the ways supermarket ground beef can be contaminated. His solution, if you have any questions about the chopped meat you've just bought: "Drop the meat into a pot of boiling water for a minute, fish it out, and pat it dry. Yes, it'll turn gray, but only on the outside, and this will get ground into the rest of the meat and vanish."
3. Fluff that Stuff: "When forming a hamburger, don't compress the meat. The fluffier, the better. A raw burger should be airy and full of tiny holes that can hold the juices released during cooking, when the fat melts and water is squeezed out from between the proteins."
Steingarten quotes Harold McGee on this issue: "The gently gathered ground beef in a good hamburger has a delicate quality quite unlike even a tender steak." Steingarten decides that one of the many reasons much of his hamburger experiments had gone awry is that "I don't think I had ever gently gathered!"
4. Just Add Water: Adding the liquid is literally the secret sauce that will make any burger sing. Here is Steingarten's eureka hamburger moment. Forty-eight hours before the Vogue article was due, he discovers that adding a tablespoon and a half of liquid to the ground meat immeasurably improved the burger. He tried cream and water, and they both produced a superior, succulent, juicy, crumbly (which, Steingarten discovered, is a good thing) burger.
5. Season Well: "Don't salt hamburger meat either before or after it is ground. Just before you cook the burger, liberally sprinkle salt on both sides of each patty, and press it lightly. After they're cooked, sprinkle with freshly ground pepper."
6. Flip Side: Searching for the proper and most delicious burger-cooking technique, Steingarten ends up asking for advice from Kyle Connaughton, the head chef of development at Heston Blumenthal's Fat Duck in England. Connaughton follows Harold McGee's finding that if you flip a burger or a steak every fifteen to 30 seconds, the outside surface will get nicely browned while the inside stays relatively cool.
7. No Pressure: "While cooking your hamburger never press down on the patty with your spatula or with anything else." An esteemed New York City chef, Lee Hanson, of Balthazar, Pastis, and Schiller's Liquor Bar, further advises Steingarten that broiling from above is much less likely to dry out the burger.
8. Buns and Brains: In searching for the perfect bun, Steingarten notes that "An article in Cook's Illustrated said the best hamburger buns are Pepperidge Farm's Farmhouse Sandwich Rolls (not the company's classic hamburger buns). He tries them and finds them to his liking, though he says "they do need to be compressed a bit before using." He does not tell us if he has found a hamburger bun compressor, though I am sure if I had 15 minutes to go through his kitchen, I would find a reasonable facsimile.

Steingarten on Hamburger Greatness
What do we demand of the perfect hamburger? That the meat patty be profoundly beefy in flavor, mouthwateringly browned on the outside, and succulent (a combination of juicy and tender) on the inside. The bread or bun should not interfere with any of these virtues. It should be soft, mild, and unassertive; its job is to absorb every last drop of savory juice trickling from the meat while keeping the burger more or less in one piece and your hands dry. Mouthwatering, beefy, juicy, and tender--not too much to ask from life, but entirely elusive, at least to me. It's not as though I haven't tried. God knows, I've tried.
Vogue's 8 Steps to Hamburger Perfection - A Hamburger Today on Yahoo! Food


The bird could eat its way out of the cage. That was very real to me. As an apprentice, I too felt like a bird in a cage made out of bread. I just fed on my limits. -- Lionel Poilane
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Old 11-15-2007, 04:41 PM   #2
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Hey fool, thanks!
These will be great fun to try out!

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Old 11-15-2007, 04:45 PM   #3
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I love Jeffrey Steingarten.

I was by myself one day at La Bonne Soupe in NYC and I was eating fondue and reading one of his books.

He walked in! When he saw I was reading one of his books he winked at me
Less is not more. More is more and more is fabulous.
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Old 11-15-2007, 05:06 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by Jennyema
He walked in! When he saw I was reading one of his books he winked at me
And did you wink back????????
There is only one Quality worse than Hardness of Heart, and that is Softness of Head.

Kool-Aid...Think Before You Drink
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Old 11-15-2007, 05:46 PM   #5
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Inquirying minds want to know!

Originally Posted by Uncle Bob View Post
And did you wink back????????
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Old 11-16-2007, 11:09 AM   #6
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NO! I was too stunned. I just smiled at him ....
Less is not more. More is more and more is fabulous.
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Old 11-16-2007, 11:55 AM   #7
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lots of good info, baking fool. thanks.

i like jeffrey steingarten, so long as i don't have to look at him. the guy definitely knows his stuff about food, but i cannot stand to watch him eat.
i feel like wiping his mouth for him, or telling him not to speak with a mouth full of food.

"Thunderbolt and lightening,
very, very frightening me!" Galileo
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