Monday, July 9, 2012


Summer has finally arrived in Seattle. Traditionally, it begins the day after July 4 and this year decided to be traditional. Chrissie and I decided to take advantage of the nice weather while it was here by doing some grilling. Here's a recipe for my favorite grill item: changburgers (fancy hamburgers). The recipe is adapted from Julia Child's ground beef recipe. Instead of thinking of burger patties as only 95% meat and 5% fat, I think of it as more like a well seasoned meatball now.

1 lb ground meat ***
1/4 lbs finely minced yellow onion
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 tsp thyme
1 Tbsp Parsley
1/4 Cayenne pepper
3 Tbsp Worcestershire Sauce

Feel free to season to taste. I rarely use exact measurements anymore and just eyeball it. Also, feel free to experiment with different ingredients. I try different herbs often. This is the most consistent combination I go to. Not surprisingly, all of these ingredients go really well with meat in general, so you might take a cue from what pairs well with beef in other dishes.

Optional: 1 egg. Adding the egg with help the patties maintain their shape after they've been formed.

Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Refrigerate until you are ready to use.

When you are ready to form your patties, you can do it by hand or use a mold. Doing it by hand will keep the patties "fluffier" and lighter. I really like these because the meat just falls apart when you bite into it. The difficulty with forming the patties by hand is that they are prone to falling apart before they get into your mouth. I would recommend adding the egg if you decide you're going to form them this way.

Admittedly, I use the mold more often. The patties stay together without help from the egg and that's important when things are going on the grill. I hate it when things fall through the grate.

Secret Ingredient: butter

Julia has taught me well
I stick the butter in the middle and cover it up with more meat

I stick a little bit of butter in the middle of all of my burgers. Here's a secret - fat equals juicy. I like juicy burgers. The butter here melts while the meat is cooking and spreads throughout the patty. It's delicious. You can probably use any kind of fat that is solid at cool/room temperature and melts when exposed to heat; I use butter because it's tasty and readily available.

After your patties have formed, they are ready to go on the grill. Cook to taste.

Cooking! Summer!

Bon App├ętit!
Happy Summer everyone!

*** A note about the beef - the most important ingredient after all! Quality is important. A good rule of thumb is the closer to fresh you can get, the better tasting your burger is going to be. This is just as important for taste as it is for texture. Frozen meat will never be as good as fresh ground meat. Your chew count will reflect that. The three kinds of ground meat I've eaten have been burger patties from the frozen food section, ground beef from the grocery store meat section, and meat that I've ground myself the day of. The best one by far was the meat I ground myself. It's something I want to eat again and again. If you have a good butcher or grocery store, the stuff you get there will probably be pretty good, but in my experience it's too dry. The meat was probably ground a day or two ago and all the juices have seeped out. I will never eat patties from the frozen section ever again. If you don't believe me, there's a standing invitation to our table for changburgers. I promise you an awesome burger.

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