How to Prepare Hamburger Patties

flickr - VirtualErn

Nothing identifies you as a master of the grill like a perfectly formed, perfectly cooked hamburger. The preparation of the perfect burger starts with the perfect patty. Here’s how to make a great hamburger patty, ready for grilling or broiling.

You’ll need:

Start with some nice, fatty ground beef. 20% is great, although 15% is also fine. If you’re going for a healthy burger, use leaner beef or even mix in some ground turkey. Put the ground beef in a large mixing bowl and mix in some of your favorite seasonings with an electric mixer. I like a bit of chili powder, a splash of A-1 sauce, and some black pepper. Some people will add an egg, a packet of onion soup mix, or Tabasco. It’s really up to you.

Decide how large you want your burgers to be. 1/4 lb will give you a relatively small burger. 1/3 lb is pretty typical, and some people will go as large as 1/2 lb per burger. Let’s say you want to go with 1/3 lb. If you bought a 3 lb. tube of ground beef, you would divide it into (3×3) 9 equal sections. Use your kitchen scale to measure these balls of beef to make sure they’re equal in size.

Now the fun part. You’re going to need a hamburger press here. Only a press will get you perfectly-formed patties. Most presses will also put a dimple in the center of the patty that will allow the patty to shrink correctly on the grill, rather than swelling up into a big ball of grease. Start by spraying your press with nonstick cooking spray. Put a 1/3rd lb. lump of ground meat into your hamburger press. Press gently and evenly to form a perfect patty. Invert the mold and tap gently or use a butter knife to remove the patty from the mold. Set the patty on a cutting board. If you’re ready to grill or broil the hamburgers, you’re all set. If you want to freeze these for future use, keep reading.

When the cutting board is full of patties, put it in the freezer. We want to freeze these patties just enough so that we can stack them later and they won’t mush together into a giant solid lump of frozen meat (trust me – you don’t want that). Repeat this process until all the meat has been used up.

If you have patty paper, you’re ready for the next step. No patty paper? If you bought the ground beef in the deli section of your local supermarket, the butcher probably wrapped it in butcher paper – the tough paper that’s waxed on one side. You can fold this paper several times and then use a pair of scissors to cut it into squares approximately the size of your patties as a substitute for patty paper.

After the patties have solidified in the freezer (should take several hours), remove them and stack them with patty paper in between each patty. When you’re done, wrap them in plastic wrap or an empty plastic bread bag.

After wrapping, put your patties back in the freezer, where they can stay for up to 4 months. Beyond that, they are still safe to eat, but will deteriorate in flavor and potentially get freezer burn.

There you go – perfect patties.