Thursday, November 8, 2012

To Grill Or To Barbecue Hamburgers?

That is the question. Screw Hamlet and his teen angst.

When you are cooking a hamburger patty, use a fork or other utensil to poke a hole in the middle of it. This way, the hamburgers will cook faster. Do not worry, once the hamburger is cooked, it will still have its great taste and the holes do eventually disappear.

If you have the means to barbecue hamburgers, then by all means, do so. I've got a couple of hints below to make it easier. It takes longer, as the meat has to be cooked by the smoke in the barbecue and away from the flames. But the results are worth the wait-You get a burger with a deep, smoky flavor, then topped with your favorite barbecue sauce.

Avoid the temptation to press your hamburger patties too tightly when shaping. Though you may feel that this will help them to hold their shapes better, in reality, this just provides denser, dryer hamburgers once cooked. Also, don't press the patties down with a spatula when cooking, as this simply drains the juices.

Hints for a great barbecue hamburger:

The best thing that you can do when you are making hamburgers is to engage in trial and error. Instead of guessing that the meat is cooked well, make a small patty and taste it yourself. This will allow you to adjust your level of seasoning and cook your burger more if it needs it.

1)    Put the cheese on the inside. Take a quarter pound of hamburger, separate it in half, put the cheese in, and seal the edges. You can use a little bit of honey to make sure that seal is solid.

Cooking hamburgers seems to be easy, but there are some tricks to learn. Make a hole in the center of the patty before you put it on the grill. The hole prevents the meat from rising in the middle so you won't have an uncooked middle with burnt edges any more. The whole will completely disappear during cooking so no one will notice your trick.

2)    Once you have your patties ready, let them warm to room temperature before you put them into the smoker. This will keep them from breaking apart. If you are cooking meats that need seasoning, season a small piece first before making the entire meal. It's hard to correct overly seasoned meat but spices can always be added. Avoid cooking all of it after it's been seasoned. Cook a small piece of meat first. After you do this you can either completely cook it or add more seasoning as you see fit.

3)    Put a pan under the basket where your burgers are smoking and put sliced onions in it. The onions will get cooked by the smoke and flavored by the fat that drops off of the burgers.

However, not a lot of people have smokers in their backyard. They think that firing up the grill is the first step to barbecue hamburgers. On a technical standpoint, they're wrong, but for a flavor standpoint, it doesn't matter.

And cooking on the grill actually gives you a little more variety than if you were to barbecue recipes for hamburgers. You can use the cheese on the inside trick above, for one thing. If you're making your barbecue hamburgers on the grill, you can add sauces and spices during the cooking process-not something you can easily do with a smoker. Coat your grill with olive oil and it will keep your hamburgers from sticking.

And of course, if you want barbecue hamburgers and it's raining, you can make them indoors. Frying the hamburgers in a pan and then adding cheese and barbecue sauce is a simple way. A better-and healthier-route is to mix the burger meat with barbecue sauce (a quarter cup per pound) and bake at 350 for half an hour. You get barbecue hamburger taste without the mess.

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