Thursday, June 11, 2009

Introducing Bobby's Burger Bunday!

Are you a burger fan? I love burgers and to me, a burger is quite a satisfying meal. I've fallen so much in love with Bobby Flay's new book, Burgers, Fries & Shakes, that I'm going to be making a burger recipe each week from his book every Sunday for a new blog series, Bobby's Burger Bunday.


These posts and recipes will definitely showcase the various flavors burgers can take on with a variety of ingredients. There are 31 burger recipes in his book, but these are only the tip of the iceberg since his recipes can only inspire me to create more on my own. Here's some info on burgers Bobby shares in his book that I found helpful:


Type of meat: Prepackaged or preformed patties tend to be inconsistent in freshness, texture, and flavor so grind your own or have a butcher grind it for you. Ground Chuck, preferably Certified Angus, is ideal because of its high fat content. Look for 80/20 (80% lean, 20% fat) which will result in a flavorful and juicy burger. If you prefer turkey burgers, use ground turkey with a higher fat content too, such as 85/15 or 90/10. The turkey will be a combination of white breast meat and dark meat from the legs and thighs, resulting in more flavor and moisture.


How to add flavor: I've realized that Bobby Flay falls into the "non-mix" burger camp. The non-mix burger camp believes flavors and ingredients should not be mixed into the burger itself, but rather top the burger instead. Here's what Bobby says...
I season my burgers with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper and that's it. Although I will occasionally crust the exterior of a burger with a spice rub, I never mix any spices, herbs, or condiments into the meat itself. Nor do I add ingredients such as onions or garlic or fillers such as eggs or breadcrumbs. My reasoning for this is pretty simple: do all of that and you'll have meatloaf. I do, however, make an exception to my rule when making fish burgers. On the whole, seafood contains very little fat... but this leanness does mean that fish burgers could use a boost in flavor and moisture. Additional ingredients also help to bind delicate fish into a burger that will hold its shape during cooking.

Forming your burgers: Try to mold the meat into uniform, fairly flat patties that are no more than 3/4 inch thick. Don't overwork, squeeze, or compress the meat as you shape them - they may end up dry and tough. If you're making seafood burgers, you'll want to chill the formed patties to help hold it's shape when it's cooked. Another key point is to make a depression in the center of the burger with your thumb. This prevents the center of the burger from "puffing up" while it cooks and ensures juicy, moist burgers.


Don't press on them! When you press on the burgers as they cook, you end up squeezing out the flavorful juices and can lead to flare ups on the grill. So whatever you do, resist the urge to press!

Bobby's Arthur Avenue Burger
(picture courtesy of Food Network)


Safety first: Ground meat should always be kept in the refrigerator until just before cooking to limit the exposure to bacteria. Also, don't serve or carry cooked meat on the same plate that held it when it was raw. (I see this far too often at cookouts!)


Cooking up burgers: You can grill the burgers outdoors with a gas or charcoal grill. If you are cooking indoors, you can use a cast iron skillet, grill pan or a griddle. Cast iron produces a great crust on the meat making it an ideal vessel to cook burgers in. You can also use a stainless-steel saute pan or skillet if you don't have cast iron. When it comes to seafood burgers, nonstick pans are the best choice. Because seafood burgers are pretty delicate and have a tendency to stick to other surfaces or fall apart, non stick pans make it much easier to keep the shape of these burgers.


Cooking times: The USDA recommends cooking ground beef until it reaches an internal temperature of 160 degrees F for safety reasons. Here is a guideline for how long to cook burgers for various doneness...
Rare: approximately 6 minutes total cooking time
Medium-rare: approximately 7 minutes total cooking time
Medium: approximately 8 minutes total cooking time
Medium-well: approximately 9 minutes total cooking time
Well: approximately 10 minutes total cooking time
Well done: approximately 11 minutes total cooking time
Turkey burgers and chicken burgers must be cooked completely through t prevent salmonella poisoning. But since the bacteria is killed at 165 degrees F, you can cook your burgers to medium-well doneness, which is an approximate internal temperature of 165 degrees F.


What about buns?
Bobby prefers buns to be soft and slightly toasted so that it can mold itself around its contents. Artisnal breads have a tendency to be too hard and can break up the burger when you bite into it. If you're looking for a supermarket brand, Bobby recommends Pepperidge Farm sesame seeded hamburger buns - they are tender yet substantial with an appealing touch of sweetness.

Bobby's Miami Burger
(picture courtesy of Food Network)

In addition to Bobby's burger recipes, I'll also share his recipes for burger accompaniments including French fries, potato chips and onion rings as well as condiments and seasonings. And what's a sweet ending to every burger meal? Milkshakes! While we're in the summer season, you'll be sure to find some of Bobby's delicious milkshake recipes in the Burger Bunday posts!

I invite you to share your burger recipes too and I'd love to link your blog with each weekly Bobby's Burger Bunday post. Send me an email ([email protected]) with a link to your burger post so I can include it on Sundays! So please stay tuned on Sunday, June 14, 2009, when I kickoff Bobby's Burger Bunday with the first burger recipe from his book!