Saturday, May 21, 2011

Grill: Hamburgers

One of most popular grilled meat is the hamburger. There is no need to have just a "plain" hamburger. The ingredients that can be added to the basic hamburger are endless. You don't have to spend a lot of time to turn your burger into something everyone will love. Let me give you a few of my favorite ingredients to make your burger special. Just add some.............

1) Yellow or white onion or shallots, finely chopped
2) Peppers, bell, jalapeno, serrano or poblano, finely chopped
3) Garlic, minced
4) Cheese,there are so many wonderful cheeses to use in and on a burger, I prefer cheddar, colby, montery jack, cojack, pepperjack. Shredded or diced.
5) Bacon, chopped and I prefer to partially precook the bacon, it makes it easier to mix into your hamburger

The ingredients you can add are, like I said, endless. Have fun and experiment. I love to add Worcestershire sauce to mine, in addition to while I am cooking my burgers.

Here are some tips when making your burgers.

*Wet your hands lightly before making the patties, it will help keep the burger from sticking to your hands too much.

*Add about 3 tablespoons of tomato sauce, tomato juice or barbecue sauce for each pound of hamburger. It will help keep your burgers moist. Ketchup an also be used.

*DO NOT over mix your  hamburger when adding additional ingredients, this will make your burgers become tough. Be gentle, but thoroughly mix in your additional ingredients by hand.

* When making you patties, make the center of your burger thinner than the outside edge. When a burger cooks, it it raises up more in the center. By making it thinner in the center, you will have a more even burger.

* When it comes to choosing your hamburger, leaner is not always better. The fat in the hamburger gives it your flavor. I would go no leaner than 80/20. I prefer 70/30. Most of the fat will drain out of the hamburger while it is cooking.  Of course, if you prefer a leaner meat, you can always use ground turkey or chicken. I would not suggest using lean turkey or chicken, remember the fat is where the flavor is, so you may not have much flavor.

* When grilling your burger, do not "mash" it down with your spatula, while this does cause more of the fat to leave the burger, it also can make them too dry. Who wants a dry burger?

* You should cook your burger to an internal temperature of 160 degrees. It is best to cook ground meat to well done. Because the meat is ground, bacteria can quickly move through out you meat, unlike steak for instance.

* Avoid any cross contamination with your meat. Wash hands before and after handling raw meat. Don not place your cooked burgers on the same plate your raw burgers were on and use a cutting board specifically for meat to make your patties.

* When making hamburgers for a large crowd your burgers can stick together when stacking them on a platter. Place either plastic wrap or wax paper between each layer of patties. This not only will keep the patties from sticking to one another, but make it less messy.

* Another way to add ingredients to your burgers is to stuff your burgers. make two thin patties, place cheese and/or other ingredients in the center of one patty and place the other patty on top. Seal the edges of the two burgers to keep your ingredients from falling out. I found it is better to saute and then cool your onions, peppers before you add them to the center of your burger.

* Don't forget to season your hamburger. I use a seasoned salt, black pepper, garlic powder, and Worcestershire sauce.  I believe salt is a must, it is the best flavor enhancer there is. Though, do be thoughtful to those who may be on a low sodium diet.

Have fun and experiment with different ingredients. This is the only way to find your favorite burger!


Thursday, May 19, 2011

The Grill

With the summer months finally here there is nothing better to most of us than grilling out. I have such wonderful memories of people getting together to have a big barbecue. The smell of food cooking on the grill. People laughing, talking and having fun together

The one question that many people ask is, should I use a charcoal grill or a gas grill. Both are great, but there are differences of course. The gas grill allows you to get your food on the grill and cooking more quickly than the charcoal grill does. Simply turn it on and in a matter of minutes it will be heated and ready to cook on. With the charcoal grill you must add the charcoal, add the lighter fluid, light the charcoal and wait for the charcoal to heat enough to not only burn off the lighter fluid, but wait until the briquettes have turned a nice gray/white on the outside. This waiting does have an upside. It allows you time to do any last minute preparations which may need to be done.

You can control the gas grills heat much easier and quicker than you can a charcoal grill. Simply turn one or more of the burners down and/or open the lid. It is possible to control the heat on a charcoal grill too. You can adjust the height of your grill rack, move around some of the charcoal or even add or remove some charcoal. 

The choice of whether to use a charcoal or gas grill is really up to the individual. Most people have their preference. Mine happens to be the charcoal. Yes, it is messier and takes a little more time to get ready before your food can be added. It also, in my opinion, means that you must pay a little more attention to the food once it starts cooking.There is just something about the smell of food cooking on the "good old" charcoal grill. The taste is also a plus for me, it takes on a much better flavor. which is also my opinion. The one thing I have learned with grilling on a charcoal grill is, make sure you let the lighter fluid burn completely off before you add your food. There is nothing worse than biting into something as wonderful as grilled food, than to have the awful taste of charcoal lighter fluid.

One last opinion I would like to add to this topic of charcoal cooking is how to place the charcoal. This seems to also be a matter of choice or opinion. Some people prefer to spread them out on the bottom of the grill, add the lighter fluid and let heat. I prefer to make a pyramid with them, wait for the ash to completely cover the briquettes, then spread them out evenly on the grill floor.

Which ever grill you decide to use, enjoy! Grilling food is a great way to not only celebrate summer weather, but a great way to have fun with friends and family.  In my next post I will add some great "grilling" recipes. Hope you will return later to view them and try them.


Hello and welcome to my blog, Cooking Sensation. This is a blog in which I will not only share my thoughts, feelings, ideas and experiences on cooking, but also on gardening. As I move forward with Cooking Sensation I will be adding pictures, recipes and links for my readers. Each recipe is one that I have tried out myself. I urge you to comment on not only the blog, but on any recipe which is posted here. Feel free to give suggestions and offer your own recipes to be shared here as well.
From time to time I will also be adding some local review on restaurants in the Midwest area. With more and more large restaurant chains showing up all over, sometimes we forget that some of the best foods are found in family owned restaurants.
Growing your own herbs and vegetables is the best way to assure that your ingredients will be fresh and chemical free. The Midwest has a short growing season as you all know. The best way to get the most from your seasonal gardens is canning and freezing. Living in the country, most people here do a lot of this. I will be giving tips and advise on this as well.
Thanks you for stopping by Cooking Sensation and I hope you will enjoy this blog.