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Originally posted by me on owlpetal.net

You’re probably making your hamburgers wrong. I know, the recipe may have been handed down by your mother and you have fond memories of her hamburgers. They were also probably shaped like bowling balls and had the flavour of sad meatloaf, with family and friends turning bland food into something delicious. Honestly, I’ve had my share of sad meatloaf burgers and they’re perfectly okay. But you can make something far tastier in a quarter of the time. Sad meatloaf burgers are time consuming and mediocre. A good hamburger has three ingredients and will take ten minutes from start to finish.

Mushroom Swiss burger

I too once made sad meatloaf burgers. I bound them with eggs and breadcrumbs in a foolish attempt to make them stick together better. Verily, I would slap them down on a cold pan, and cook them at medium heat for something like fifteen minutes before smearing them with ketchup and eating them on a wonderbread bun.

But I have been saved! Rather than going up on a mountain to have a chat with God, I just read a lot of recipes and listened to people who have been doing this cooking thing longer than I have. From their wisdom, I’ve gleaned a few basic rules for making a hamburger. In honour of the rapture that wasn’t, here’s the 10 best of them.

The Ten Commandments of The Burger

1. Thou shalt not put eggs in the burger.

Eggs are not necessary to bind the burger, and they kill the juiciness.

2. Thou shalt not put bread crumbs in the burger.

Bread crumbs change the texture to a meatloafy texture and kill the  juiciness.

3. Thou shalt not cook the burger at medium or low heat.

High heat means caramelization, which means a tasty crust. A burger cooked at too low a heat will be mushy.

4. Thou shalt preheat all cooking implements.

Grill or pan should be very hot before the burger touches it.

5. Thou shalt not press on the burger while it cooks.

Leave. It. The. Fuck. Alone. Pressing on the burger squeezes out juice and we want juice. You flip it once. That’s it. The only time that PSSSHHHT noise is welcome is when the burger first hits the searing hot grill.

6. Thou shalt let the burger rest for five minutes after cooking.

Leave. It. The. Fuck. Alone. All meat has to rest after cooking. If you bite into your burger immediately you will have a dry burger and a soggy bun. If you cut into a steak immediately, I will drive to your house with a bat.

7. Thou shalt season the surface of the burger immediately before cooking.

Lots of good kosher salt on the patties two seconds before they go on the grill. Let it sit in the salt, you’re drawing out juice. A wet surface means a crappy crust.

8. Thou shalt not make the burger with lean beef.

The ‘juice’ in hamburgers is fat. Fat is delicious. If you don’t want fat in your hamburgers, you don’t want hamburgers. Use a mix of regular and lean for best results.

9. Thou shalt grind beef at home whenever possible.

Supermarket ground beef can’t be cooked below well done, and is never at the right fat content. A mix of chuck and sirloin makes a divine burger.

10. Thou shalt eat the burger medium rare.

This is only an option if you home grind beef, or buy it from a good butcher. Supermarket ground beef does have a higher chance of e coli contamination, so cook those to well done. A medium rare burger is a thing of beauty, though.

The Burger:

Hardware:

  • A cast iron pan or a grill.

Software:

  • Ground beef (a mix of half lean, half regular or home-ground)
  • Salt (kosher or coarse ideally)
  • Pepper (fresh ground)

Instructions:

If you want to grind your own meat, use a mix of half sirloin, which is lean and flavourful, and half chuck, which is chewy and fatty. Replace the chuck with pork shoulder if you feel sassy. Either use a grinder, or blitz small batches of 1/2 inch cubes in a food processor. Blitz for 10 short bursts. No matter what meat you use, it should be room temperature before you cook with it.

Preheat grill to high or a cast iron pan to medium-high. If you are working wth a grill open it during preheating, scrape it down, and apply oil to the grill with either a silicon brush or some paper towel and tongs. Close it up and then let it come to full heat.

Form the ground beef into 5oz patties. To do this, weigh or or guess 5 ounces worth of meat and start gently slapping it from palm to palm. Keep doing this and the patty will take shape. Once your patty is formed, press a divot in the top with your thumb. This will prevent ‘bowling ball burgers’ as it’ll compensate for the burger’s tendency to constrict.

Once the grill/pan is crazy hot (you want the grill at 500 degrees), season the burgers liberally with kosher salt and pepper. Place them down on your surface. Do not touch them. When it comes time to flip, get the flipper beneath, place your fingers on the top of the burger, and gently flip over. If the burger is sticking, let it cook a little more. But a hot, oiled surface should not cause this problem.

For medium rare, cook at four minutes a side. Only cook home-ground beef, or beef from the butcherto medium rare.

For well done, cook at six minutes a side.

If you want a cheese burger, toss your cheese on in the last thirty seconds, and put down a lid over the burger.

Once off the heat, let the burgers sit for five minutes on a rack if possible. Take this time to toast the burger buns (top rack of the grill for a minute works great). Resting is crucial for all dry-cooked meat as it lets the juices redistribute. Don’t believe me? Cut into one burger immediately, then let another rest five minutse before cutting. Look at the amount of juice on the plate and compare. Then give the dry burger you cut to someone else.

And that’s it! I like my burgers with lettuce, tomato, onion, pickle, and some homemade mayonnaise but you can dress your burger as you wish. So long as the patty is good, the toppings are up to you.

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Originally posted by me on owlpetal.net

Since the last post was all about exploring weird new areas in food and science, I thought I’d share my take on a classic dish. This is really a dead simple recipe, and most of the steps are even optional. The trick is to roast a dry, well-seasoned chicken at 450 for around 50 minutes. You do that, it’s gonna taste good.

You know you want it.

Roast Chicken

Preparation time: 20 minutes + 12 hours in brine + 1 hour of tempering
Cooking time: 50 minutes
Yield: 2-4 depending on how hungry people are

Ingredients:

  • 1 whole chicken, ideally free range
  • Salt and pepper
  • Thyme (optional)
  • Root vegetables (optional)

Hardware:

  • 1 ovenproof pan
    1 cutting board that can handle some chicken juice

Short Directions:

Brine. Preheat to 450. Pat Dry. Cut out the wishbone. Bring to room temperature. Truss. Season. Toss the root veggies in the pan. Roast on top of the root veggies for 50 minutes. Rest. Carve. Snack.

See? Super easy, one-pot recipe. Here’s a breakdown of each step and why I do it the way I do for those of you with questions and patience.

Brine (optional)

What?

A brine is a salt and sugar bath which is used, for example, to make pickles. Think of it as a marinade, except with salt instead of acid.

Why?

Through the magic of science (diffusion and osmosis) the bird will become juicier and more flavourful. This is optional, but highly recommended. The brine should be kept cold, either in a cooler with ice, or in the fridge.

How?

A brine is 16 parts water, 1 part salt, ½ part sugar. So a gallon of water would have a cup of salt and half a cup of sugar. A litre would have 1/4 cup salt, 1/8 cup sugar. Mix these up, add any other flavours you like, and immerse the chicken. I use a ziptop freezer bag in the fridge, but use whatever you have handy. It’s important to keep the chicken cold.

Preheat your oven to 450

Why?

Crispy skin is your friend with chicken. If you cook at a lower temperature, you’re not going to get the desired crispiness. Low and slow until ‘falling off the bone’ gets you dry, mealy chicken. Save low and slow for your pot roasts or a great chicken stew.

Pat dry

Why?

When dry cooking, steam is your enemy. Steam creates rubbery, rather than crispy skin. The only moisture when roasting a chicken should be in the meat itself.

How?

Use paper towels or a tea towel you don’t mind washing. Completely pat the chicken dry inside and out. If you’re hardcore and have a clean fridge, put it uncovered in the fridge for a few hours.

Cut out the wishbone

Why?

If you’ve ever tried to carve a chicken, the dratted wishbone is what gets in the way of cutting off the breast perfectly. If you remove the wishbone before the chicken is cooked, you won’t have any problems with tasty juices escaping.

How?

Scrape at the top and sides of the back cavity of the chicken with a paring knife until you see the wishbone. Then, run the knife along the sides, wiggle your fingers in, and yank it free.

Bring to room temperature

Why?

By tempering (slowly bringing to desired state) your meat, you ensure that the cooking is even and that your recipes’ advice actually works. If you start with cold meat, you immediately drop the oven temperature and create uneven, and unreliable cooking.  Trust me, this is safe. We’re cooking it all the way through.

Truss

Why?

By tying the legs tightly to the chicken, you’re ensuring even cooking by increasing the density. Not doing this will result in different doneness for your white and dark meat.

How?

Season the inside with some salt and pepper, and then watch this video.

Season

Why?

To season means to coat with salt and pepper. Everything you cook of any kind needs seasoning of some sort. Meat especially. Season from higher up because the salt will disperse and get you a more even coating.

How?

Pinch kosher or fine sea salt between thumb and forefinger, and then sprinkle from around a foot above the chicken. Cover the entire bird, and repeat with pepper. If you have it, sprinkle some fresh thyme leaves overtop.

Roast

How?

If you have some root vegetables, chop ‘em up and put them beneath the chicken. Tasty! Anyways, stick it in the oven for 50-60 minutes. For a ‘normal’ chicken, which is around three pounds, go for 50. An oven thermometer should read no less than 161 in the thigh. It will continue to cook for a bit once out of the oven. Ignore those lying fucks who tell you that chicken should be served at 180.

Rest

Why?

ALWAYS REST MEAT AFTER COOKING. When meat cooks, the juices inside become active and rush to the surface. Think of a fist tightening in the water. Letting the meat rest is like relaxing the fist, which allows the juices to redistribute. Rest for minimum ten minutes, but twenty or even half an hour is good too.

Carve

How?

By removing the wishbone you have made life very easy. With a long, sharp knife slice along the top of the breast, and then down. Gently pull the knife back along the entire length of the chicken until you hit the bottom, making sure you’re outside, not inside of the ribs. You’ll hit the thigh and wing joints, and may have to wiggle that free. You should end up a leg & thigh piece, and a wing & breast piece.

Snack

Grab the little oysters from the small of the back, and the crispy pope’s nose. You’ve earned it!

Serve

Your nicely cut half chicken can be served on top of your roasted root veggies. Pour over the pan juices and then sprinkle with a bit of finishing salt if you have it. Share, and enjoy!

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