I’m not a master chef, though I have some basic cooking skills I picked up while working in French restaurants when I was younger. I don’t apply these skills professionally, though they come in handy in our attempt to raise healthier kids and form a tighter family bond through satisfying meals.Â I thought it would be fun to produce a how-to series on great homemade meals. I begin this series with a tutorial on how to make cheeseburgers. This was an impromptu documentation — I took the photos with the closest camera to me, my BlackBerry.
How To Make A Cheeseburger
1. Prep. If the weather is nice, I’ll cook on the gas grill on our deck. Being that it’s mid-March in New York, I’m using my heavy-duty iron grill pan inside. I highly recommend them: they cook food evenly, are durable, easy to clean and inexpensive. If your goal is to feed mouths as fast as possible, it’s a good idea to begin heating your grill pan on medium-hight heat at the beginning of preparation. Same goes if you’re using a gas or charcoal grill.
We don’t eat cheeseburgers often, but when we do, we like big and juicy ones. We prefer to use organic ground beef, roughly 20% fat, 8 ounces per patty. That’s a good fat ratio because the burgers remain moist and tasty, while most of the fat renders out during cooking. Knead each portion into a round, thin patty; it’s best to go very thin because the beef will contract as it cooks. Sprinkle salt and freshly ground pepper to each side.
Buns? We switch between toasted challah-bread buns and potato-bread slices, depending on our mood. We use thinly sliced cheese to melt on top, and cheddar and swiss are our favorites.
2. Grill. After your grill or grill pan is smoking hot, you can lay each patty on top. We like our burgers cooked medium-rare, which equates to roughly four minutes of cooking per side with thin 8-ounce patties. If you like your burgers cooked medium or well done (yuck), add another minute or two to each side.
As soon as the first side is cooked, you should flip them and immediately layer your cheese slices on top. The cheese should melt within the four minutes required to cook the second side. You then should remove the patties and rest them a minute on a warm plate — to let them finish cooking and drain the fat.
3. Assemble. Set your grilled patties on top of your bread, on warm plates, as pictured at the top of this post. (Avoid cold plates because they make your food cold.) Serve immediately.
4. Accompaniments. I like to serve cheeseburgers with a light green salad, or sliced pickles. Some people like to include a starchy side dish, like potato chips, French fries or potato salad. However, I find that a delicious 8-ounce burger is satisfying on its own.
Also, be sure to offer a choice of several condiments, like ketchup, mustard, mayonaise and relish. Finally, I find that cheeseburgers taste better with a glass of a full-bodied, red wine, like a cabernet or shiraz.