Summer weekends wouldn’t be the same without backyard barbecues. And no backyard barbecue is complete without hamburgers. The exact origins of the hamburger are unknown, but historians believe this beloved staple of American barbecues can be traced to mid-nineteenth century Germany. According to History.com, political revolutions in Germany in the 1840s spurred many Germans to emigrate to the United States. Germans brought many of their cultural traditions with them, including their cuisine.
One such dish was the chopped steak, which can be traced to Hamburg, a city renowned for its high-quality beef. Though few might now see ground beef as a remedy for digestive issues, that was a common belief in the 1860s, when a New York-based doctor named James Salisbury suggested that cooked beef patties could benefit the digestive system as much as chopped, chipped or ground beef. Buns were not yet in the picture at that time, but they were by 1904, when beef patties on buns were available at the St. Louis World’s Fair. In 1921, the first White Castle restaurant opened in Kansas, and hamburgers have been a staple of American cuisine ever since.
Though it’s been a century since White Castle opened its first restaurant, people are still perfecting the art of making the perfect hamburger. Exactly what defines the perfect hamburger may be open to debate, but there’s no denying the desirability of juicy burgers. As grillmasters prepare for another season of backyard barbecues, the following are some ways they can make their burgers juicier.
1. AVOID EXTRA-LEAN MEAT. Extra-lean meat might be healthier than the alternatives, but 93 percent lean ground beef is unlikely to produce juicy burgers. When making burgers from scratch, opt for 80 percent lean. WebMD notes that fat helps to hold burgers together while searing and cooking the meat. The result is a juicier interior than cooks are likely to get when using lean meats.
2. SWAP BEEF FOR LAMB. Cookbook author John Holl notes in his book, ‘The American Craft Beer Cookbook’ (Storey), that substituting ground beef with ground lamb makes for a juicier burger. Lamb is moist, so unlike lean beef, it can be grilled as well-done without drying out. Lamb also offers a different taste than beef, adding a little variety to a backyard barbecue.
3. SADDLE YOUR SPATULA. Flipping the burgers too much or pressing them against the grill as they cook can dry them out.
4. BE CONSCIOUS OF CARRYOVER COOKING TIME. Carryover cooking time refers to the length of time temperature in a food continues to rise even after it’s been removed from a cooking area. Beef is among the many foods that continue to cook after being removed from a heat source, so beef burgers can be removed from the grill before they reach the desired cooking temperature. This prevents drying out and ensures that once they’re served, the burgers will be juicy and safe to eat.
Grilling a juicy burger is easily accomplished with a few simple and time-tested strategies.