What Is It About Burgers That Makes Them So Great?

Burgers sure are delicious and considering that 50 billion of them are consumed per year in our country, that means on average you eat one every 3 days. 60% of all sandwiches sold in the country are Burgers. So with more than 50,000 Burgercentric joints for us to consider eating from, it’s no surprise that the Burger is America’s favorite thing to eat. (More Burger stats available here.)

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But what makes them so desired? Is it the toppings? The nostalgia of backyard BBQ’s with the family? Perhaps it’s the convenience. Well it could be all of these things but more likely, it’s the crux of the entire package, the ground beef. Sure there are other options for a “Burger” in the form of turkey, salmon, wild game, bison and even veggie offerings but ground beef is ground zero for Burgers.

Cooking burgers in a fastfood restaurant

We traveled with Burger Expert and film maker, George Motz to Wooster, OH, home to the Certified Angus Beef® Culinary Education Center to take a deeper dive into what is it about ground beef that makes a Burger so special. While there he interviewed, meat scientist Dr. Phil Bass and Chef Michael Ollier about what makes beef so special and why we like it so much in a Hamburger. He filmed the whole thing and created an excellent short film that explains the science behind making the Very Best Burger.

Tips for Grilling the Very Best Burger

Safety Rules:

  • The #1 most important rule is cook ground beef to 160°F to ensure food safety. An instant read thermometer is the only way to be sure – color isn’t a reliable indicator of doneness.
  • Keep cold foods cold and hot foods hot. There’s not much leeway for room temperature when it comes to food safety. And be sure to keep raw separated from cooked product. That includes hands, plates and other utensils. Cleaning items that have come in contact with raw product will eliminate cross-contamination.
  • Always wash your hands before handling food. Goes without saying, right? Yes — but it’s an easy rule to forget when you’re preparing and serving food. Be sure your helpers follow this rule, too!

The Flavor:

  • The burger itself should be full of flavorful juice – that’s why marbling and a generous lean-to-fat ratio is important. The ratio is the number you’ll see at the store (90/10, 85/15, 80/20, etc.) You should choose the one that best fits your needs. Many like 80/20, but experiment with different ratios to find your favorite.
  • Our 10 exacting standards carry over to our ground beef. Certified Angus Beef ® brand ground beef delivers superior, consistent quality in addition to generous marbling. Our beef is sourced from only “A” maturity, grain-finished cattle, providing superior flavor, texture and color.
  • The cheese. No matter what you like, the goal is ooey-gooey goodness. Sure, there’s plenty to be said for flavorful blue, cheddar, or Monterey Jack cheese, but let’s face it…they just don’t melt as satisfyingly as good ol’ American cheese.
  • Finally, the toppings you choose can further enhance what is essentially already the complete package. Whether you go the traditional route with toppings like lettuce, tomato and pickle, or amp up the impact with caramelized onions, bacon, or a flavorful aioli or mayonnaise, your toppers can elevate an already delicious burger even further.

Forming the Burger:

  • Don’t overwork the meat – handle it gently and let the burger do the magic.
  • Burgers like to puff up as they cook – creating a kind of “meatball effect.” How to avoid it, you ask? Make the patty concave by pressing your thumbs into the center when forming the edges.
  • Use a burger press or even a lid from an old mayonnaise jar to form perfectly uniform patties.

Cooking the Burger:

  • High heat is important; you want to hear the burger sizzle as it hits the grill grates. The high heat will create a flavorful crust as it sears the outside of the burger.
  • Don’t pierce or smash down on the burger. These are both causes of flavorful juices going to the grill and not your taste buds. Nobody wants to lose more juice than they have to.
  • Always use an instant-read thermometer when it comes to doneness. It is recommended to you cook ground beef to 160° F.

For more info on CAB check out our podcast interview with Tara Adams or this recipe for beef bacon jam from Chef Mike Ollier that is featured in the film.

Bacon Jam Burger

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