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cooking burgers on the line

post #1 of 23
Thread Starter 

Hello everyone, so I am in the beginning of my career right now, I graduated in 2012 from Le Cordon Bleu My question is in regards to cooking hamburgers. I have been a vegetarian for over 13 years and have no plans on changing that, however I work the grill and for the most part I seem to do alright, but my issue is that I am not always certain on temps of the burgers and I despise feeling unsure, I want every dish to go out perfectly cooked, seasoning I am great with, what are some tips on knowing when I am at a med, med rare ect. I have a slight Idea by feel and sight ( juices begin running and I was taught that when this occurs I am entering a med rare) I welcome any advice as long as it is in good taste. Thank you. 

post #2 of 23

No. Don't get out. A good cook doesn't limit themselves by cooking only what they prefer to eat. 

     There are several Youtube videos that demonstrate the method of poking various areas of your hand to approximate the different temps. 

You can watch those, then practice. 

If I remember correctly, essentially you first hold your hand loose. Press on the fleshy area below the thumb. That's what rare feels like.

Then put thumb and forefinger together. Press in same area. That's medium rare. 

Then middle finger and thumb. Med. 

And so on. 

post #3 of 23
Thread Starter 
Thank you chef writer for your intelligent response I will def keep researching and of course cooking. And as for akat, your entitled to your opinion, but a little challenge never deterred me and it's people like you that encourage me to keep on doing what I know I can do. Simply put, I doubt my chef would continue to allow me to cook the most expensive items in the kitchen if I was not doing something correct.
post #4 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by akat View Post
 

 you can not cook food YOU DO NOT EAT. EATING is the essence of cooking.

I know what you are trying to say, but @gypsy0714 is asking a question about the technique of grilling food to a desired degree of doness. In this case, the food is hamburgers. I haven't eaten a hamburger in years, but I can certainly cook one to desired degree of doneness.

 

Buy 3 hamburgers. Cook one to what you think is MR, being sure to test surface tension of meat the entire time watching for clues. Watch the flow of juices for clues as it cooks. Cut it in half and see how you did. Give it to an employee. Win a new friend. Adjust technique for next burger and go for M repeating previous process. Etc.

 

Practice at home with portobellos. Surface tension is surface tension. It is not an exact science so much as a understanding and feeling for the process.

Wisdom comes with age, but sometimes age comes alone.
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Wisdom comes with age, but sometimes age comes alone.
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post #5 of 23
Awesome attitude! You're probably gonna get a lot of static for being a vegetarian in this field and it seems like you can take it.
post #6 of 23

As some have stated, a seasoned chef or cook will learn by feel and visual cues, but why not take the guesswork out of the equation entirely and buy a good instant read thermometer, like a Thermapen? Best $90 you'll ever spend.

post #7 of 23

If you cant eat it, how on earth are you supposed to cook it ?

There are many great Hindu chefs, i would not employ one in a steak house.

If you have a specific diet, Great ! Many others probably have a similar diet, cook for THEM.

if you cook like a robot following a manual, the food will taste like that. your not a robot your a cook, take advantage of that and cook the food you like the way you know it will TASTE great.

If you HAVE to cook food you don't eat at all, that is a shame and do your robot work while you LOOK FOR ANOTHER PLACE.

you will be happier and so will the customers.

post #8 of 23

I cannot eat shelf fish, yet nearly every place I have worked at I have been "the fish guy."  Largely because I know I cant taste it I do not screw around and put the extra effort into getting spot on every time.  Maybe because I am more concerned about doing it to restaurant/menu spec than how I personally would like it?  It is more than possible to cook something you cant eat.  You might just have to work harder at it.

 

fwiw, I would rather have a cook with an inability to eat a food than somebody who can eat it, but disliked or hated the same thing

post #9 of 23
Thread Starter 

Thank you everyone who gave intelligent and positive responses I truly appreciate it..... Akat, honey I do not need, nor want any more advice from you, you seem extremely narrow minded, sooooo good luck with that. To answer your question on how, well first I take the burger out of my drawer, then I season it, then I put it on this thing called a grill that has this thing called a fire and omfg I am cooking a burger lmfao. I am sure someone out there would love your narrow minded and simply unintelligent responses, but that someone is not this vegetarian and omg a woman at that. What will we ever do? I guess I will just keep going into work and getting paid to cook what you claim I simply can't. 

post #10 of 23

@gypsy0714

Take it all with a grain of salt.I've learned over the years and years that a good chef is one that develops his or her senses,  Eating doesn't have to play a role., You can't learn  senses reading a book you develop them by doing.. When I add oil to a hot pan and that oil starts to shimmer and gleam it's ready for product. Some check meats and fish with a finger based on resistance. Checking a vege with a knife and it's just the opposite.  You smell and see most everything you cook. You are using your senses, sight, smell, feel, etc. If your bringing up some boiled rice, you don't have to lift the lid and taste it. You put your ear to the side of the pan and if you still hear a little sizzle going from the boiling water, it not done. When it goes quiet, it ready,

Bottom line cooking is a sensory experience. Many people who lack one sense will naturally develop other stronger ones to compensate.

I'm a baker. I don't like or eat cookies but when I put those puppies in the oven 

I can tell you without looking when they are nearing done, or need to be rotated for even cooking.(that's a tough one, you get a mix aroma of ones that are near done more and ones who need to go a little more) so the pans have to be spun. I can blindly pull them out soft, chewier or crispy. I don't have to eat them to know their great.

I'm not a hot chef but I've been told I make a great burger. I learned to listen. When the meat is cooking and water is not escaping fast the sizzle is a higher pitch , when it starts to cook further the water moves to the top and the sizzle mellows. Hang in there and remember you're in a professional forum where chefs are everything people say they are;) 

FOR YEARS I LIVED TO WORK! NOW I WORK TO LIVE!
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FOR YEARS I LIVED TO WORK! NOW I WORK TO LIVE!
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post #11 of 23

Great post, panini.  Thanks.

post #12 of 23
A good general rule if you have a good sear on both sides is when it pushes blood, it's rare, right when it starts to push clear is mid rare, solid clear flowing juice is medium, when it slows it's found mid -well and you should be able to poke a burger and see when it's firm enough to be well. Always be sure to rest.
post #13 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by akat View Post
 

If you cant eat it, how on earth are you supposed to cook it ?

 

 

 

Beethoven: Missa Solemnis": Nikolaus Harnoncourt & la Royal ...

Ludwig van Beethoven

Wisdom comes with age, but sometimes age comes alone.
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Wisdom comes with age, but sometimes age comes alone.
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post #14 of 23
Try learning the heat production of whatever grill you are using. Then from there you can figure out timing (I'm talking minutes here) for burger temps. OK, so that might sound like hocus-pokus, but that's the way I do it, with decent success. It does take a little experience time though.

The biggest loud-mouths cracking-wise about vegetarian cooking are usually the weakest food-service people in the kitchen. They're usually the guys that are best at filling up the roll baskets and refilling the salt and pepper shakers. Those types that can't pull of good vegetarian cooking other than chicken-salad without the chicken.
post #15 of 23

Ice,

 

I could go for a bowl of Miracle Whip and celery right now!

 

Well put, meat (especially beef) is often used as a crutch.  While a steak can get screwed up, lets face it, odds are the steak itself is going to be just fine.  Its the side cooking that really makes many meals memorable (10pts for alteration).  Usually by stealth, too.  Vegetable cookery is really much more interesting and varied.

post #16 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by panini View Post
 

@gypsy0714

Take it all with a grain of salt.I've learned over the years and years that a good chef is one that develops his or her senses,  Eating doesn't have to play a role., You can't learn  senses reading a book you develop them by doing.. When I add oil to a hot pan and that oil starts to shimmer and gleam it's ready for product. Some check meats and fish with a finger based on resistance. Checking a vege with a knife and it's just the opposite.  You smell and see most everything you cook. You are using your senses, sight, smell, feel, etc. If your bringing up some boiled rice, you don't have to lift the lid and taste it. You put your ear to the side of the pan and if you still hear a little sizzle going from the boiling water, it not done. When it goes quiet, it ready,

Bottom line cooking is a sensory experience. Many people who lack one sense will naturally develop other stronger ones to compensate.

I'm a baker. I don't like or eat cookies but when I put those puppies in the oven 

I can tell you without looking when they are nearing done, or need to be rotated for even cooking.(that's a tough one, you get a mix aroma of ones that are near done more and ones who need to go a little more) so the pans have to be spun. I can blindly pull them out soft, chewier or crispy. I don't have to eat them to know their great.

I'm not a hot chef but I've been told I make a great burger. I learned to listen. When the meat is cooking and water is not escaping fast the sizzle is a higher pitch , when it starts to cook further the water moves to the top and the sizzle mellows. Hang in there and remember you're in a professional forum where chefs are everything people say they are;) 

Very interesting point about listening. I never heard anyone mention that before, and it has never occurred to me to do that except for food in the deep fryer. I do use my ears for that.

post #17 of 23

@greyeaglem

  Hey Chef. I'm sad to hear the youngsters had a hand in your retirement. I'm sure you deserve your retirement though. About the listening thing.In my early days I had the privilege of working

with a Chef who was legally blind. He was very talented in the kitchen. Keep in mind this was some 45 years ago and we worked a pretty strict brigade. The kitchen is full of things going

on that you hear as well as see. I think you'll agree on some of the things. For instance, You can hear when water is at a rolling boil on the flattop. You can also hear if someone adds salt or product to the water. You can tell if someone is using a metal spoon in an aluminum pan. You can hear by the sizzle in a pan that your garlic or onions are  right for product or caramelize and burn.

You can hear when a mixer or Robot Coupe is bogging down. You can hear when you have added enough oil to make mayo or other items. You can tell someone is murdering their herbs by chopping instead of rocking the knife. You can tell when someone is using a straight blade to cut things like bread when you should hear the sawing of a serrated knife. Bread! When your crusty bread hits the cooler air and it crackles. Testing the doneness of a sponge cake by pushing a little in the middle has a sound all it's own. You can tell when you grab a squeaky clean plate vs a greasy one. You can also tell the dish person has too much soap in the sink. You can even tell when the floor needs cleaning just by listening to others walk. It goes on and on.

   I flipped to the Pastry side decades ago and I have my own set of things I can evaluate by sound. I can almost tell you the temp of the ovens by the gass flowing inside the oven and the way the exhaust sounds. Crazy thing but interesting. After working with that chef yrs. ago I have never allowed music in the kitchen. There is quite a bit of it going on, now passing that on to others is another thing. Most think you are botz.

FOR YEARS I LIVED TO WORK! NOW I WORK TO LIVE!
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FOR YEARS I LIVED TO WORK! NOW I WORK TO LIVE!
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post #18 of 23

Panini. 

 I am very happy to read someone else refer to the sounds of the kitchen as music. I have felt that way since starting out and never understood or liked having radios or music in the kitchen. I think listening to a kitchen in full service is fascinating and can be an insight into how well it operates. The presence of  a radio always indicated to me that the employees were not fully present and paying attention to their work. The louder the radio, the less focused the staff seem to be.  I'm sure others will disagree but that has held true in my experience. 

     I have found as well that listening closely to the kitchen before locking the door at night provides clues that something may not be right. The drip of faucet, the rush of water through the pipes, the  whir of the compressors, the ticking of a clock. The combination of normal sounds provide a basis for comparison. Any variation on a given day provides reason to investigate before leaving. This habit proved useful numerous times. 

  And when opening in the morning, the addition of sounds when turning on the equipment and and the activities of getting ready for service is like the band warming up. Throw in all the sounds you mentioned about crackling bread, the knife on a cutting board and sautéing and you have a symphony. 

Ok. I'll stop now. 

About six months ago I began writing a prose piece about this. I'll have to go back and finish it now. Thanks for the inspiration. 

post #19 of 23

I agree with the value of sound cues.  Pan, as a pastry cook, do get that "sizzle" sound off of something like a genoise batter when you combine the eggs?  Its something that I have tried to tune trainees to over the years but they just look at me like I am nuts!  The "click, click, pop" of lump charcoal lighting is one of my favourites.

 

A cthat said, I do like a radio on when I am alone, doing prep.  With the proviso that I pretty much only listen to the "talk" station of the Canadian national broadcaster.  I like human voices around me, plus the format of the programming acts like a "clock" that I can pace my work to.

post #20 of 23

An LCB graduate doesn't know how to cook a hamburger?  We're describing the visual cues to 'doneness' of a piece of meat to an LCB graduate?

 

Something is wrong.  Must not be the same culinary eduction I got there.  I honestly can't imagine graduating from a major culinary school as a vegetarian and never tasting the protein products one would be expected to prepare FLAWLESSLY before being handed a diploma.  Clearly, the rigor has gone out of the program.  What a shame.

post #21 of 23

CS, she is not talking about cooking a burger, she is talking about cooking burgers on a line, in her first job!  As an LCB grad myself, I don't really remember the extensive short order classes you must have had...

 

Seriously, what cooking school grad has come out of their school fully formed and ready to do everything?  None.  And lets face it, its the recent grads that do act like that lead give culinary grads a bad name.

post #22 of 23

Not only has the rigor of the program gone down its placement services have as well (if we're to believe the OP).

 

LCB graduates cooking burgers on a line? 

 

Something is amiss.  Terribly so.

post #23 of 23

      I wouldn't be so sure anything is amiss. . LCB has many more branches graduating many more cooks, this in addition to all the numerous other culinary programs churning out graduates. Not everyone will get placed in a high end restaurant. Nor should they be. Every restaurant can use an educated cook. 

      Plenty of places serve burgers in addition to other more fancy items and the trend is toward upgrading burgers with a varied selection of ground meats and fancier toppings. A burger is no longer simple hamburger anymore. And fwiw, I worked in two elite private clubs for a while, each with two dining rooms, one casual and one upscale creative menu. In both clubs, burgers outsold anything else on either menu.

Americans love burgers. 

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