I have been listening to Lynne Rosetta Kasper’s The Splendid Table podcasts when on my evening walks. At one episode she had a guest who discussed how he thought hamburgers could taste as good as those expensive entrées at restaurants. His choice of beef is not sirloin or more expensive cuts but chuck, but preferably ground in those wavy, almost fluffy mounds we see in some stores. His only seasonings are salt and maybe black pepper. He believes burgers are best cooked not in a barbecue grill but on a stovetop open grill, a discovery I have also made. The pan—I use a heavy, non-stick Cuisinart pan—should be very hot. I don’t use any fat or butter. Fat or butter makes the pan smoke. The meat is seared quickly and cooked 2 to 3 minutes each side. He suggested half an inch thickness and spoke against squeezing the ground beef tightly. He wants his burger to “crumble” in his mouth. Finally, of course, he advised against pressing the burger down as you cook it. All of these, except for the “squeezing” I had discovered for myself. To hear an expert second my impressions was empowering.
Tonight, I did season lightly with salt and black pepper but also mixed in a tablespoonful of coarsely chopped green parts of a scallion before forming the patties. As I learned on The Splendid Table, I patted the beef gently into shape without squeezing them into a sausage-like density. After turning the burger, I added organic New Zealand sharp cheddar on this burger and the result was heavenly. Grass-fed animal products like cheese and milk contain lipoic and omega-3 fatty acids, both good for one’s carbohydrate metabolism.
The Angus beef chuck hardly left any fat in the pan but what was there I mopped up with Japanese short-grain rice that formed crisp curds when allowed to dry after I turned off the heat. I sprayed another pan lightly with olive oil and roasted whole garlic cloves and yellow onion rings, zucchini and celery, seasoned with a Hunan dry marinade from Dean Jacobs whose products have become staples in my daily kitchen.