I like to cook, and I cook pretty well. I like to try new recipes, and I seem to have a knack for selecting good ones. I would say I try at least one new recipe every week, but sometimes I try several. After almost ten years of dating my boyfriend Terry, he has eaten A LOT of different delicious foods and my repertoire has expanded tremendously. In spite of the depth and breadth of my cooking, when I asked him about his favorite foods a few years ago, he lit up and said, “pizza and burgers.” This kind of frustrated me because I could never make burgers at home that tasted nearly as good as the ones at restaurants, and I had not yet found a delicious homemade pizza recipe either, though I was trying. As a cooking and baking fanatic, this hurt a little bit. His favorite foods were not things I made. Burger King burgers or pizza from a delivery place outranked anything I had ever made. So sad. I decided that if burgers and pizza were the best things to him, I’d learn how to make good ones at home. I started doing research about what makes a good hamburger. What kind of meat was the first question.
- If you haven’t heard of them, America’s Test Kitchen is a great resource. They take a food such as lemon bars and test out the varying recipes and try every variable such as fresh juice vs. bottled, pre-baking the crust vs. not and then taste testers rate all the variations. America’s Test Kitchen keeps testing until they figure out what they deem the “best recipe” for that given item. I learned from America’s Test Kitchen cookbooks and articles that their taste testers preferred Ground Chuck over ground beef or ground steak. I tried ground chuck (80% lean) and agreed, so we now use ground chuck for burgers. Previously, I had tried to use super lean hamburger, but the burgers were always dry and flavorless.
- One of the keys to moist burgers is to make your patties carefully. Don’t pack the meat too tightly or handle it too many times. You want the meat to stick together to form a cohesive patty and not fall apart, but don’t smash it. When you are finished making patties, use a knuckle or a finger to make an indent to the middle of each one. The indent helps to cook the burger through the middle as well as prevent curling up of the patty.
- In order for your burger patties to hold together, you have to form them when the meat is fresh. You cannot find a great sale on ground chuck, buy a bunch, freeze it, and then try to make burger patties with the thawed meat later. The patty will not hold together. I may have learned this one the hard way… You can still take advantage of a sale, you will just want to form the meat into patties and flash freeze them to put into a freezer bag or covered container for future use.
Teriyaki Burger with Grilled Pineapple
- 1/2 cup white sugar
- 1/2 cup soy sauce
- 1/4 cup cider vinegar
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1 tablespoon cold water
For the burger:
- 80% lean ground chuck
- fresh or canned sliced pineapple
- salt and pepper to your taste
- sliced sharp cheddar cheese
- sliced tomatoes
- your favorite hamburger bun
- Make the teriyaki sauce: In a small pot, combine sugar, soy sauce, vinegar, garlic, ginger, and black pepper, and bring it to a boil over medium to medium/high heat. While sauce is heating, combine cornstarch and cold water. When the sauce comes to a full boil, add the cornstarch and water and stir until it is combined, bubbly, and thickened. (Mine only thickens slightly.) Remove from heat and use immediately or cover and refrigerate for up to two weeks. Makes about one cup of sauce. *Warning: If you decide to taste the sauce at this point, you will probably be disappointed. It has a strong vinegar taste. Put it on the burger, and it will be heaven. This sauce is also fantastic on grilled chicken.
- Prepare the ground chuck and pineapple: Shape the meat into individual hamburger patties. You need to press and shape the meat enough to keep it together, but do not pack it tightly or smash it. Make an indent in the middle of each patty with your finger or knuckle. Place the patties and pineapple slices in a single layer on a baking pan or in a cake pan. Sprinkle salt and pepper and drizzle teriyaki sauce over both sides of the patties. Drizzle pineapple slices with teriyaki sauce also. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use. I usually do this in the morning and let the meat and pineapple marinate in the sauce all day until I make it for supper. I have also done it right before grilling, and it was fine too.
- Grill the meat and pineapple: Preheat your gas grill on high. When preheated, place the meat and pineapple on the grill and then turn the heat to low. Grill for approximately five minutes per side and use a meat thermometer to help you cook to your desired level of doneness. Add cheese just before finished to let it melt a little or place the burgers on an upper rack or away from direct heat to melt the cheese.
- Put together your delicious burger with your preferred toppings. Terry loves one of the burgers at Red Robin, so we try to recreate it by topping ours with a little mayo on the bun, lettuce, tomato, a drizzle of teriyaki sauce and a slice of grilled pineapple.
Source: Teriyaki Sauce from Our Best Bites.