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Need Hamburger Help!

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Post Wed Apr 14, 2004 2:05 am
hotchef well done
well done

Posts: 319
Location: Florence, AL
I have tried and tried to make a good hamburger and have been miserably unsuccessful. My family makes a mixture of hamburger meat, wet bread, ketchup, and other ingredients that forever ruined me for sub standard hamburgers. I have tried to replicate it and cannot, and honestly don't want to anymore. I want my own recipe! I have tried just forming ground chuck into patties and grilling with light seasoning. Bland. Tried ground round, ground beef, all to the same end. My wife has even gone so far to say that her favorite burger is the one you buy preformed from the grocery store! I have not tried the burger in Steven's HTG because I can't get my hands on any taragon to make the butter. I love hambugers and I hate having to eat someone else's to have a good one.

Also, how do you cook hamburgers? Every time I cook them, so much fat is grilled out that it causes a huge flare up (I use a 22.5 Weber Platinum) and burns the outside of the burgers before I can get the inside done. I have pulled them to cooler parts of the grill but that ends up being more of an indirect cook because every time I put them back over the coals, they flare up again.

Post Wed Apr 14, 2004 3:25 am
smoke rare
rare

Posts: 26
You and me both. Hamburgers are a challenge. The best I ever cooked were chopped sirloin. And these were a full half pound cooked on one of those little grocery store hibachis.

The general consensus is keep the good side down for show, only about 2 minutes, and then flip one time and use the bottom side for cooking. Seems it's sort of like pancakes... the first ones never turn out as good as the later ones do.

Now this joint where I work mixes ground beef with chopped onions and starts with full half pounders.

I bought some frozen ground angus chuck 1/3 lb patties at wal mart (because they have a very cool box) but so far have only tried them inside on a cast iron frying pan.

The other school of thought uses chuck and patties more than 1/4 but less that 1/2 and grills them over medium heat or say a hot fire with the grill about 4 or 5 inches above the coals.

My school of thought is a burger is just a fat medium to soak up flavor and put condiments on, so all the goodness comes from the onions and buns.

Now Steven has a deal where he uses prosicuto, sounds very nice. It's in HTG.

I like these frozen angus burgers (Sometimes you need a sharp knife to cut them apart when they are frozen) because they give you a uniform medium to work with, and then you can experiment with other parts of the meal for a while.

This year I am working on my own sourdough buns.

I can eat these half pound bugers anytime I want at work, and really, I would just as soon prefer a smaller pattie because ground beef (chuck or sirloin) doesn't really have much to offer.

At any rate, briquettes are best for burgers and if you have a Weber put the lid on. The flavor comes not from the wood or charcoal, but from the grease dropping on the coals and exploding back up into the pattie.

Post Wed Apr 14, 2004 10:36 am
Bob-BQN User avatar
well done
well done

Posts: 12904
Location: Texas
hotchef here is a link to an older thread that has a recipe by spfranz for Smoked Hamburgers which are some of the best burgers I've ever eaten: Burger patty recipe: No bread crumbs? There are photos of them on my "WWW" web link.

As far as flare-ups there are a couple of things you can do. You may have your fire too hot and are cooking your hamburgers too fast. Try building a fire with half to two-thirds the amount of charcoal that you are using. The hotter the fire is the faster fat is rendered, causing flare-ups and a hotter fire. When experiencing flare-ups shut the lid and close off the vents most of the way. This will smother the flames and cool things off a bit. Once your temperature has come down open the vents back up to give the coals fresh air so they can continue to burn.

We had hamburgers two nights ago for dinner. I began with a generic chimney starter (Weber’s is larger) three-fourths full of charcoal. Once they were lit I spread them out, leaving some space between the coals. After cleaning the grates the burgers were place over the coals and I closed the lid and adjusted my vents. Then I had to go inside to lecture my son. When I guessed it was time to flip the burgers and turn the sausages (which were not over the coals, used indirect heat) I went out, did so, closed the lid, and went back in to finish my speech.

Of course knowing your grill comes with practice and experience. But the key is to build a fire hot enough to cook on, but not too hot. We had perfect burgers & dogs and my fuss was with my son :cry: , not the grill. BTW afterwards I did hug him and tell him how much I love him. :)
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Post Wed Apr 14, 2004 1:05 pm
Big D well done
well done

Posts: 616
Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Well I consider my self very much a rookie to grilling when speaking on this board by I like to think I have mastered the hamburger, and pancakes, But I am a learn as you go kinda a guy and have always experimented so no exact receipe but this is what I do:

Big D's collosal heart stoppers
I take my ground beef and mix it in a bowl with some ketchup, dried and finely chooped onions (or you can use dried onion soup mix) and grated cheese (normally mix of cheddar and mozza) and add Montreal Steak spice (I like food really hot so I add hot sauces on the burger after but this isnt to bad if one of your guests doesnt like it hot) then form my burgers with a slice of garlic butter in the middle (like in HTG). I then wrap the burgers with 3 full strips of bacon and secur using a tooth pick.

I cook until done over a low heat, If people dont want the bacon I still cook it with it on then take it off and eat it for myself,,, I find the bacon fat helps keep it moist....

I find people are a little too worried about food poisioning from beef so if they ask for well-done then its their own falt its dry somewhat...

To avoid the soggy buns I always heat my buns on the grill with some garlic butter (just like making garlic bread).

I then put the burgers on a plate but first I heat the plate and put just a little butter on the plate to melt and moisten/fatten up the burgers a little more ... I then put a slice of mozzeralla cheese on the bottom bun and cheddar on the top and dress to how you like. Anyone who is on a low carb diet and doesnt want the bun (ya like the bun is going to make the difference with this thing) I sneak some melted butter on to their plate, but it would just make the buns soggy.

Post Wed Apr 14, 2004 1:16 pm
Big D well done
well done

Posts: 616
Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
almost forgot...

I like to keep my condiments, very cold up until serving, especially the tomato,I find with the Burger and Buns hot the cold senesation of the condiments is a very nice contras wich you dont get if you keep them at room temperature

Post Wed Apr 14, 2004 1:27 pm
Rick rare
rare

Posts: 47
Location: Oregon
Lot's of great ideas and recipes here. The only thing I can add is, I like to place my slice of onion right in the burger, Using Stevens recipe putting butter in between two patties, also place a slice of onion in between. When I am cooking burgers, I like to use my Weber kettle. Use a foil pouch with some smoke pellets, and smoke the heck out of the patties while you are grilling them with the lid on. Also, what adds some great flavor during the process is to take your onion skins, garlic skins, and any other herbs you might be fond of, and throw them right on the coals! Adds great flavor, and makes your backyard/patio smell wonderful.

Rick

Post Wed Apr 14, 2004 5:03 pm
Grand Scale BBQ Deputy
BBQ Deputy

Posts: 4272
Location: York, PA
Big D - There was a Hot Dog thread a while back in which I detail my "heartstoppers" do a search and see if its still out there. I remember Steve himself replied "Pass the lipitor!"

It's very similar to your burger but I throw a hotdog into the mix for good measure and serve it on a potato roll in honor of my buddy Chagan.
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Post Wed Apr 14, 2004 5:35 pm
Aroberts rare
rare

Posts: 37
Location: Seattle
Interesting thread on the burgers. I'm curious, Smoke says to the keep the lid on when cooking burgers. This is what I have always done as well, but recently I picked up Doc Willouby's and Chris Schlesinger's book "Let the Flames the Begin" (Steven did a nice endorsement for it, by the way) and they say never put the lid on when cooking burgers. They say it's the biggest mistake they see. Apparently the smoke with the lid closed creates an acrid taste on the burgers.

Any thoughts on this? Do people cook burgers with the lid closed or open?

Thanks,
Aroberts

Post Wed Apr 14, 2004 5:52 pm
RichD medium-well
medium-well

Posts: 280
Location: New Jersey
If you are cooking on a gas grill I don't beleive closing the lid makes a difference. When I use my gas grill I usually close the lid and have never noticed a difference in taste.
With a charcoal grill as long as the coals have been lit and are grayed over you should be ok, but if you are adding new coals to your fire youwill want to leave the lid open until they have turned gray. New charcaol briquettes can cause an acrid taste until the binders have burned off.
Now if you are using wood or natural lump charcoal again I don't think the lid being on or off makes a difference.

RichD

Post Wed Apr 14, 2004 5:55 pm
Big D well done
well done

Posts: 616
Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Grandscale,

Oh my, those sound amazing! I am defiently going to make some this weekend. What a great idea, hot dog in a burger! Its BBQ version of Turducken

Post Wed Apr 14, 2004 6:00 pm
Bob-BQN User avatar
well done
well done

Posts: 12904
Location: Texas
Aroberts,

I haven’t noticed any acridicity on any of my food cooked with the lid closed. I wonder what they mean.

Definition of ACRID: Sharp and harsh, or bitter and not, to the taste; pungent; as, acrid salts.

Synonyms of ACRID: acerb, acerbic, acid, bitter, blistering, caustic, pungent, sulfurous, sulphurous, unpleasant, venomous, virulent, vitriolic

I can't see the grill singling out hamburgers over others foods cooked on it to impart them with a special flavor. We are told to close the lid on thick cuts of meat which are cooked directly over the coals and they taste good. And I close the lid on burgers often with no ill affect. As mentioned above we had burgers this week cooked with the lid closed. The kids loved them!

Do they explain what causes this to happen or how it happens? Unless they mean with the lid closed and the vents closed as well. If you are smoking meat and you don’t have proper ventilation then the smoke re-circulates instead of venting and becomes stale. Now I’ve heard of stale smoke making your food bitter. But when I close the lid I use the vents to allow airflow and regulate the temperature. So maybe the biggest mistake would actually be ‘not using the vents properly’. Anyway that’s my opinion.
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Post Wed Apr 14, 2004 11:31 pm
Aroberts rare
rare

Posts: 37
Location: Seattle
Bob-BQN wrote:
Aroberts,
I can't see the grill singling out hamburgers over others foods cooked on it to impart them with a special flavor. We are told to close the lid on thick cuts of meat which are cooked directly over the coals and they taste good. And I close the lid on burgers often with no ill affect. As mentioned above we had burgers this week cooked with the lid closed. The kids loved them!

Do they explain what causes this to happen or how it happens? Unless they mean with the lid closed and the vents closed as well. If you are smoking meat and you don’t have proper ventilation then the smoke re-circulates instead of venting and becomes stale. Now I’ve heard of stale smoke making your food bitter. But when I close the lid I use the vents to allow airflow and regulate the temperature. So maybe the biggest mistake would actually be ‘not using the vents properly’. Anyway that’s my opinion.


Thanks for your response Bob. I always appreciate your insightful answers. I don't think I was clear in my last post and I think you're right: they say "Don't cover your grill when you are cooking directly over the coals" and "leave the cover off when you are doing direct heat grilling" but for their example they use a guy who throws "a bunch of burgers or chops on the grill" and as the fat drips on the coals causing flareups, they douse the flame by covering the grill. The authors say that this transforms the fat into bad tasting acrid smoke, but they must mean that vents are also closed. They do say that in indirect grilling should you cover the grill, but in direct-heat grilling don't.

Good point. Thanks! (And the book's defintitely worth a read if you're interested)>
Aroberts

Post Thu Apr 15, 2004 12:09 am
spfranz well done
well done

Posts: 615
Location: Minnesota

I'll second Grandscale's burger dogs. I did mine by quartering a stick of string cheese and then stuffing it into a slit in the hot dog to get the cheese in the middle. They are awesome.

Speaking of hot dogs, if you want to impress the snot out of people with just plain and simple hot dogs, make Steve's Samba Dogs. Way good stuff.

Scott
I like vegetarians. Some of my favorite foods are vegetarians.

Post Thu Apr 15, 2004 10:16 pm
hotchef well done
well done

Posts: 319
Location: Florence, AL
I have tried adding things into the meat before I form them, but they turn out too soft, almost mushy, even if I cook them well-done. Am I putting too much liquid, handling them wrong, wrong meat, etc?

Bob, I can't wait to try those burgers you described. I read about them about a month ago and have not had a chance.

Thanks.
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Post Fri Apr 16, 2004 1:28 am
hotchef well done
well done

Posts: 319
Location: Florence, AL
Bob, this actually has to do with last post I made. Forgot to ask you the proportions for the ingredients in your "Heartstoppers." Seems simple, but with my history I wanted to try it a way that someone knows it works first. :wink: Thanks.
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