Monday, November 8, 2010

Hamburger with Cheese - 100% Beef (Cheeseburger)

Due to its widespread popularity and worldwide proliferation, hamburger can be considered as an indication of inflation. Seriously! The hamburgers we have been enjoying from the many fast-food restaurants have considerably evolved into smaller sizes over the years, sort of suffering from a serious condition of dwarfism. This, I believe is due to the effect of the world inflation. Knowing it is a good business decision to stick to the current retail price as much as possible, the only way to go for burger companies to counter the continuously rising prices of ingredients and increasing costs of production is to wittingly but very silently reduce the serving sizes.

Praying the consumers will not really notice the physical changes and blindly think that they are eating the same portion originally served many years back. But of course we eventually become aware of. We may not necessarily complain but somehow deep inside we know.

On top of the reduction in size, the quality of beef patties is also probably being thwarted to incorporate cheaper extenders and the likes to cope up with the increasing price of beef. We have notice the slightly diminishing quality of the beef patties over the years as well. What used to be a 100% beef hamburger can no longer be expected from our favorite burger fast-foods now. But this negative food evolution is something we should understand. As I said above, this is brought about by the world inflation and the company’s decision to suspend increasing prices as much as possible. It is happening not only to hamburgers but to almost all commodities, food or otherwise.

But we, as consumers have the power to choose. With the many restaurants or food outlets available around, offering their versions of the delicious hamburgers, then we can select the ones giving the best worth for our money. We can still continue our pursuit for that 100% pure beef hamburgers. Not just as a commercial ad label but a true selection parameter. And if still we cannot find satisfaction, then we can always make our own and be sure that it is really a 100% beef hamburger.

As a backgrounder, a hamburger or just burger in its short form is a sandwich consisting of a cooked patty of ground meat, usually beef, but occasionally pork, turkey or a combination thereof, usually inserted inside a sliced bread roll along with select vegetables. Hamburgers are often served with lettuce, bacon, tomato, onion, pickles, cheese and condiments such as mustard, mayonnaise, ketchup and relish.

One of the most important aspects of creating a top restaurant-quality and tasty homemade hamburger is choosing the right cut of meat or combination of different cuts of meat to be freshly ground or minced. There are many cuts of beef that can be combined together to create the most flavorful burger. Many would recommend mixing such cuts as sirloin, chuck and brisket. You are at liberty to choose your own combination; something which works well with you and your family. Just consider that the best percentage of lean to fat is about 85 to 90%.

For these preparation though, we are constrained to the use of plain minced beef available at our neighborhood supermarket. Since most of you probably have better options use the right combination as suggested above. For a 4 servings of hamburger, we purchased about 700 grams of freshly minced beef. We thought a 175-gram beef patty is not really that much for a single serving of hamburger for a hungry male. So we thought. :-)

Additionally, we purchased 4 large burger buns. Not really freshly baked but still okay.

While I have been told to only season (with salt) the beef after I have formed them into patties, I still decided to add salt, freshly ground pepper and olive oil beforehand. In a mixing bowl combine the minced beef, 2 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil, 1 ½ tsp iodized salt and ½ tsp ground pepper. Lightly stir to mix the ingredients together. Do not over work the beef. Let it stand inside the fridge for about an hour.

Divide the beef into four equal parts and form into patties about 1 inch thick. Do not overwork the patties too much. It doesn’t need to be perfect circle. We need it to be airy to have a tender and juicy patty.

For the meantime, prepare the mustard-catsup dressing. In a small mixing bowl combine 3 tsp mustard, 8 tbsp mayonnaise, 4 tbsp catsup and 2 tbsp sweet pickle relish. Stir to blend properly. Set aside.

Prepare the vegetable ingredients as follows: 1 large tomato, sliced thinly, 1 large onion, peeled and sliced into rings with end rings and small rings separated and some iceberg lettuce, roughly chopped.

I love my hamburger with caramelized onion. So I cooked the separated end rings and small rings of the onion in a tsp of vegetable oil until translucent. Then I added a pinch of sugar at the end for it to fully caramelize. Set aside as well.

To cook the patties, prepare your griddle over the oven burner or stove. Alternately and much better, you can grill the patties over electric or charcoal grills. :-) When the griddle is already hot, set the heat to medium. Since I only have a small griddle, I cook the patties in two batches.

Since the patty is quite thick, I covered them with a lid during cooking to ensure that the inside is properly cooked through. Flip the patties over to cook the underside. At the last minute of the cooking process place 1 slice of cheddar or mozzarella cheese on top of the patty. Cover again to properly melt the cheese.

While cooking the patties, set a wide non-stick skillet on the other burner. Slice the bread and warm them in batches on the skillet. Timing is necessary to ensure that the bun is warmed on both sides at the same time that the patties with cheese are cooked through.

To prepare the hamburger: In a serving plate, arrange the bottom half of the bun. Spread a good amount of the mustard-catsup dressing, place a layer of lettuce followed by the beef patty topped with cheese. Arrange the slices of tomato and onion on top of the cheese and finally place the top half of the bun. Continue cooking and preparing until the four servings of hamburgers with cheese are done. Serve while still warm.

My hamburger is a little special for I like to add the caramelized onion among the toppings. So on top of the melted cheese, I first place the layer of caramelized onions followed by slices of tomato and onions. Similarly, I finish it off with the top half of the bun. Gorgeous!

These cheeseburgers are so delicious. The meat is cooked just right and the dressing and veggies all complemented with one another into one luscious sandwich. The burger is quite huge for a single serving but we are done eating just after several minutes. The 175-gram patty is not that much after all. Enjoy! c”)

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