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Perfecting the Cheeseburger

Perfecting the Cheeseburger

July 14, 2017
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Cheeseburgers, especially ones topped with melty American cheese are having a moment. Even fancy restaurants are highlighting the American classic – some have people waiting hours for table to try a cheeseburger. In the Test Kitchens, we’re thrilled people are craving something we’ve loved for years! So rather than wait hours for a table, we set out to recreate a delicious, restaurant- style cheeseburger at home. After lots of research and numerous attempts, I think we succeeded! Here are all the details you need to know to make them in your own kitchen. Don’t be daunted by the amount of information!
 
  • Meat – This is most important to the success of your cheeseburger. We highly recommend buying your ground beef fresh from the butcher or at the meat counter of your favorite grocery store. Doing this ensures the meat hasn’t been overworked and compacted, which will lead to a more tender and juicier patty. Not the prettiest visual but you can see the difference below – right is from a prepackaged tube and the left is fresh from the butcher. At home, handle the ground beef as little as possible and keep it in the fridge. You want the fat to stay solid and not melt in your hands or out at room temperature. Form and season one side of the patties and then stick them back in the fridge until you are ready to cook.
 
  • Toppings – We think classic is best. However, when you keep the toppings simple, you should make sure quality is high. Homemade pickles and fry sauce for topping the melty Deli American is the perfect combination. The pickles are the quick refrigerator version, so don’t be scared off; it’s not actually canning. They should sit for 12 hours before you plan on eating, but will keep in the fridge for two months.

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  • Buns – Soft buns are better for this burger. Avoid Kaiser rolls or hard rolls. Soft, fresh bakery hamburger buns are exactly what you need.
 
  • Cooking Technique – Here is where you will make or break your burger. In a stainless steel or cast iron skillet brushed with vegetable oil, work with only one patty at a time. Place the patty into the hot skillet, seasoned-side down. Firmly smash down using a heavyweight spatula. You can use a second spatula or a bowl to push down for more leverage. Flatten the patty to about 1/2 inch thick, don't worry if it isn't perfectly round, it's part of it's charm. Repeat with the other patties, fitting all four in your pan. Cook burgers, but do not touch them, for 90 seconds. Seriously, do not touch them! I know how tempting it will be to poke, or peek, or squish a little more, but patience is key (it’s only 90 seconds, you can do it!) Using the spatula, flip burgers, making sure to scrape the bottom of your pan to include the delicious crusty bits that have formed. Cook 30 more seconds. Top each burger with 1 slice Deli American; continue cooking 90 seconds or until internal temperature reaches 160°F or your preferred desired doneness. Slather with the homemade sauce and pickles and enjoy the fruits of your labor... hours earlier than if you had ventured out!   
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