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How do you get a Juicy grilled hamburger??

post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 
Everythime I grill burgers (I use ground chuck) they turn out kind of packy..for lack of a better discription. I've tried adding egg and not adding egg. what I am I doing wrong?? :confused:
une saison une raison ou un temps de vie
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une saison une raison ou un temps de vie
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post #2 of 20
Lose the egg and add either olive oil and/or beef stock to the ground beef, and don't cook beyond medium.

http://www.ahherald.com/food/2003/ft_030918_burgers.htm

Mark
Salad is the kind of food that real food eats.
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Salad is the kind of food that real food eats.
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post #3 of 20
If they seem "packy" then you probably are, in fact, packing them too tightly. Be gentle when you shape them -- just enough to get them to hold together.

Adding egg does nothing except give you egg in what is now more an individual meatloaf. :mad: If you're using good meat, you shouldn't have to add ANYTHING. Besides, mixing stuff in means you run the risk of handling the meat too much and compacting it when you shape it. (I'm a burger purist: I want mine to be just meat, with salt and pepper on the outside, nothing else IN the meat.) I'm not even fond of the idea of sticking an icecube in the middle -- again, you have to squash it together too much then, and all you get for it is a watery middle or worse yet, unmelted ice in the middle. :eek:

Also, when you cook a burger, follow what I like to call the "Beatles method" of cooking: let it be. Don't keep squashing it down, don't keep moving it around. Just put it on the grill, give it a 90-degree turn halfway cooking the first side, flip it over GENTLY, and just let it finish cooking without squashing it.

Some people recommend making a dimple-like impression in the middle of each flat side, to facilitate the inside cooking, if you make really thick burgers. I don't think that should be necessary, but then I don't like trying to eat burgers wider than I can open my mouth. :D

Finally: chuck is good. High fat content in the meat is good. Rare is good (just be sure of the cleanliness of where the meat came from; if possible, grind your own). A burger from meat that is too lean and overcooked will never be a juicy burger.
"Notorious stickler" -- The New York Times, January 4, 2004
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"Notorious stickler" -- The New York Times, January 4, 2004
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post #4 of 20
You can also add chopped onion, or other veggies to the meat to impart moisture and by all means - do not over handle them. Leave the meat a little loose, just enough handling to shape them. I cook them to about medium and then let them rest before serving.
"Our lives are not in the lap of the gods, but in the lap of our cooks." -Lin Yutang
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"Our lives are not in the lap of the gods, but in the lap of our cooks." -Lin Yutang
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post #5 of 20

Squishing the burger

Funny, I just saw an episode from this restaurant makeover show the other day and the cook in the kitchen was continuously squishing the burger to the grill. The chef that was coming in to change things in the kitchen was in shock when he saw him squishing the heck out of the burgers.

I guess there is this script running in our heads "must release fat, must release fat" when in essence we are releasing the flavour and any moisture. I know I've done it hunderds of times over the years.
post #6 of 20
Use enough fat. You want about 20% fat for a good burger. Less fat makes a dry burger. Other good suggestions made by others here.

Phil
post #7 of 20
Higher fat content. Higher heat (not flame). Definitely no squishing (even for well done). I've heard that some even bury ice cubes in the middle of the patty. Don't know how well that works as I haven't tried it yet myself. I kinda understand the theory though.
post #8 of 20
I will echo the 20% minimum fat recommendation. Fat = flavor = moisture.

Mark's recommendation to add beef stock is a good one, although I've found that any liquid works well. If you want to guarantee juicy burgers at any level of doneness, add about 1/4 C. of water to 1 lb. ground beef. The liquid gets in the way of the protein fibers trying to bond and creates a looser framework. A looser framework translates into tenderness AND, more important, a looser framework can hold more moisture. The tighter the framework, the more moisture the meat squeezes out/loses. The extra liquid makes the burger a little harder to form, but the end result is phenomenal.
post #9 of 20
Thread Starter 
Thanks all!!! I will try all of these!! :D
une saison une raison ou un temps de vie
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une saison une raison ou un temps de vie
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post #10 of 20
i like beard's idea for burgers. he talks about pan frying in butter :D . he also talks about forming the patty around a small ice cube like beefcheeks mentioned. it works.
post #11 of 20
Like Suzanne I am very much a purist when it comes to burgers. I don't like to add anything to my meat other than salt or pepper (I do like doing stuffed burgers such as blue cheese stuffed), so no adding stock, water, eggs, etc. If you do your burgers right then there is no need for that stuff. First off, I really prefer to use a 25%-75% ground beef. I find that to be the ideal fat to meat ratio. Pack your burgers loosely. I form a very loose ball then gently flatten it, just briefly touching up the edges so they don't fall apart. There is no need to pack it into a dense ball of meat, it will hold together. I tend to like my burgers thick so I do dimple the center, it helps it to cook evenly, and helps the burger to stay flat as it shrinks. If you skip this step and make thick burgers you can end up with with burger balls as opposed to disks. Also make sure your meat is medium-high not high. High works great for thin burgers but is too hot for thick burgers. You end up with an overdone outside and a raw middle. And, as stated before, DON'T PRESS YOUR BURGERS. All this does is squeeze juices out of them and doesn't help them cook any faster.
http://www.onceachef.com/ is my personal blog where I share many recipes, my passion for cooking, and all things food.
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http://www.onceachef.com/ is my personal blog where I share many recipes, my passion for cooking, and all things food.
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post #12 of 20
Here's what I do:

1. 20-25% fat content home-ground chuck is the way to go. As you shape the raw burger, you should have a hand feel that lets you know it is going to hold together without much pressure.

2. I try to make the burger even thickness as possible, possibly slightly thinner in the middle.

3. I grill the first side on high, until the narrow sides of the burger patty are about 1/4-1/3 turning gray.

4. Then I flip the burger once. Salt and pepper the grilled side. Turn down the heat or put the burger over a lower heated part of the grill.

5. I make my own homemade burger buns. I butter them and then grill them along side the burger. When the bottom bun is grilled I put it over the top of the exposed grilled side of the burger.

When all is done, I flip the burger over onto the plate, and add any toppings that I want, and place the grilled top part of the bun over that.

6. Occasionally, I had a TBSP of homemade Worcestershire sauce to the meat as I form the patties, just for variety!

doc
post #13 of 20
Ditto on everything said....and for goodness sake, flip that juicy burger once and don't press down on it!!!!! (For a little extra fun flip, I like to add paper thin slices of potato to my burgers. Mix a little ketchup, a little mustard, little garlic and some potato....it's quite tasty!)

Is anyone else bothered by that Lea & Perrins commercial with the dude smashing down on that poor burger and all the precious juices come dripping out!!?!?!?! Of all people they should know better!!!!!
Is there such a thing as Queen
of the Grill? Why do men only
get a royal title over the
barbeque? I should be queen.
Girls like to play with fire too.
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Is there such a thing as Queen
of the Grill? Why do men only
get a royal title over the
barbeque? I should be queen.
Girls like to play with fire too.
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post #14 of 20
I just add some spices and worst sauce, and pack lightly as Suzanne described. You're packing too tight from what you say.

I also don't flip my burgers except once to cook the other side, and then for a few seconds to warm up the already cooked side. NO SQUISHING!
Life without broccoli isn't really life, is it?
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Life without broccoli isn't really life, is it?
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post #15 of 20

Grinding your own?

I ground 3 lbs. of chuck over the weekend with a KitchenAid food grinder. Turned out great but I have two questions.

1. Should the large hunks of white stuff be cut out before grinding or is this what is needed to bring the fat content to 20 percent?

2. The instruction pamphlet says, "For better mix and more tender results, grind beef twice". Later it says, "Fatty meats should be ground only once." Is chuck a fatty meat in this context? Can anyone elaborate on the underlying point here?

Thanks again to everyone!
just an old guy learning to live off his own cooking
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just an old guy learning to live off his own cooking
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post #16 of 20
I posted this sometime before in greater detail, try a search of deltadoc's posts. Tips from my friendly Byerly's butcher, Glenn.

1. Never use any of the grayish fat.

2. Use only the solid white fat. Press on it with your finger, it should feel pretty firm and solid.

3. Never use the seam.

4. Never use anything questionable like tendon, vein, connective tissue, gristle.

5. Partially freeze the meat before grinding.

6. He picks out long swatches of perfectly marbled chuck for me to grind so I don't have to wonder! :)

doc
post #17 of 20
With apologies to the international crowd: Isn't it funny that in a country where so many people are so obsessed with cutting out fat, the thing that makes our favorite food really great is . . . FAT!!!! :D

My two mantras are:
  1. Fat carries flavor; and
  2. All things in moderation.

:lips:
"Notorious stickler" -- The New York Times, January 4, 2004
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"Notorious stickler" -- The New York Times, January 4, 2004
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post #18 of 20
Suzanne, I have two mantras very similar to yours.
1. Fat is flavor
2. Everything is better with bacon!!!!

:D :D :p :D :D
http://www.onceachef.com/ is my personal blog where I share many recipes, my passion for cooking, and all things food.
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http://www.onceachef.com/ is my personal blog where I share many recipes, my passion for cooking, and all things food.
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post #19 of 20
the fattier the meat, the more easily it becomes overworked. even if you loosely pack an overworked burger, it will still taste pasty or greasy. A second grinding can be enough for meat to be overworked. a lightly worked burger keeps the fat where it belongs, suspended in the meat, rather than loose in the mix.

if you add anything to your burgers (i like a little salt and worcestershire) distribute it evenly over the top of the meat so that you dont have to knead it much to incorperate. A quick toss, like as seasoning greens, is all that you really need. everyone else seems to have answered the question regarding the cold fat.

Erik.
post #20 of 20

Burgers

Dinks easy recipe (sorry if it is repetitive):

Meat: Ground chuck (1/3) and ground sirloin (2/3). Don't add anything. It's a burger, not a mini meatloaf. Home grinding is clearly superior if you have time. If you do decide to homegrind, choose a good cut of meat.

Pattify: Handle the meat as little as possible. Make the patties whatever size you deem appropriate accounting for cooking moisture loss. Make them concave on both sides (thinnest in the middle) to account for expansion. Salt (fleur) and pepper (tillicherry).

Grill: Fajita type grills work great. If unavailable, use a Weber.

Wood: Anything works, but hardwood charcoals are clearly more tasty (apple, pecan). I avoid mesquite as it is too strong.

Cooking: Bring the patties up to room temp. Coals should be medium high heat (just post white). Waterbottle for flair ups. Couple of minutes per side. Take them off the moment you think they are done. Set aside under foil for ten minutes to allow for consolidation (very important. Make your hungry guests/family wait.)

Serving: White fluffy kaiser rolls and your fixins.

Troubleshooting:
Dry: Check the fat content of the meat you are using. Higher is better. If you are concerned about health, make smaller patties. You may also be overcooking.

Overcooked: Don't question that little voice that says 'I think there done.' The ten minute consolidation adds 2-3 minute of equivilent grill time. They should not be done when they come off the grill.

Bitter taste: The wrong wood and burning oil can lend a bitter taste. Try some different woods, stick with what you like. Do not use olive oil to non stick the grill. Use peanut oil. Kill flairups with your spray bottle.

Cooks Illustrated had a great article on this a couple of years ago.

Knightdo
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