However you cook it, a hamburger topped with cheese, tomatoes, lettuce and pickles is the all-American lunch or casual dinner. But don't think that you can only use ground beef for your burgers. Salmon burgers make a more elegant entree for dinner. Enjoy delicately flavored veal burgers. Lamb burgers bring a touch of the Middle East to the table. Chicken and turkey burgers provide a low-fat alternative to beef. Cook burgers until the internal temperature reaches 160 degrees Fahrenheit for ground meat with the exception of poultry, which should reach 165 F.
The Unmistakable Grilled Flavor
Fire up the grill for an outdoor barbecue feast of burgers. Try a variety of meats in addition to the classic ground beef burgers. Keep in mind that poultry burgers should be cooked away from the other burgers so there isn't any cross contamination. While you're at it, throw on some portobello mushrooms, or thick onion and tomato slices for those who prefer a vegetarian burger. Toast the buns, too.
The Simplicity of Sauteing
Frying or sauteing burgers is the quickest way to cook them. Place the shaped burgers into a pan that's been heated over medium-high heat. The pan is ready if you sprinkle a few drops of water on the bottom and they skitter and immediately evaporate. Fry the burgers on the first side until they are crusty brown, then flip and cook the other side. Don't press down on the burgers and turn them only once.
Broiled and Tasty
A crisp, charred surface results when you broil the burgers. The difference between grilling and broiling is the heat source is at the top of the burger not coming up from the hot coals below. Use a perforated broiling pan so the fat and liquid drip away from the burgers. Broil on the top rack and watch the burgers closely. If the burgers start to overcook on the surface, turn off the broiler. Move the pan to the middle rack and finish cooking at 350 F.
Baking for a Crowd
Bake a bunch of burgers all at once in your oven if you're serving a large group. The trick is to make the burgers all the same size and thickness so they are ready at the same time. Use a hamburger press or a jar lid the diameter and thickness you want the burgers to be. Place a sheet of plastic wrap in the lid with the ends hanging over the edges of the lid. Pack with raw meat. Lift out the burger by lifting up the ends of the wrap. Bake on a cookie sheet with a high rim to contain any fat or liquid or in roasting pans. Turn the burgers over halfway through the cooking time, which is about 30 minutes.
Wrap Them Up
When you're camping save the grill top for other meats and cook the burgers in a "hobo pack." Set a hamburger patty, slices of onions and tomatoes on several sheets of aluminum foil. Wrap up the package and set it directly on the glowing coals, turning every 10 minutes. The burger is ready in about 20 to 30 minutes, depending on how thick it is. You might think the burger steams, but it gets a nice char from being directly on the coals.
- License to Grill; Chris Schlesinger and John Willoughby
- The Art of Cooking; Arnold Zabert
- Photo Credit Jupiterimages/liquidlibrary/Getty Images