In the Kitchen

In search of THE PERFECT HAMBURGER, cont’d
Back to one of our favorite kitchen subjects, the all-American hamburger. A few more tips on how to make the perfect hamburger. Hamburgers are making a big comeback in upscale restaurants during our ‘hunker down in the recession’ era. As a result, some very fine chefs are adding to the repertoire of cooking tips. Here are a couple I’ve picked up recently that make some sense.

     -“form the patties gently by hand, leaving the meat loosely packed. Getting it too tight      causes a loss of flavor.” Tightly packing the meat does not actually remove flavor, it          just makes it less available to the taste buds. Putting the patties in the fridge for a          couple of hours before cooking will keep it from falling apart.

     -sear the patty in a hot skillet or on the grill, then turn the heat down low to finish the           cooking process.. Searing the meat gives it a wider range of flavors, and reducing the           heat thereafter allows the cooking process to finish without burning the beef.

     -finally, my favorite new tip: use your index finger to push dimples into the meat, creating           small pools to catch and hold the juices while cooking. Some chefs suggest 1 dimple           right in the middle, others suggest several. Whichever you choose, this makes a lot of           sense to me - - saving juices normally lost can only improve the taste.
And do not forget a couple of tips of old from my father about constructing the burger: always put mustard in contact with the beef, and mayonnaise/ketchup in contact with the vegetables. They go together. Don’t use a heavy bun; it detracts from the other myriad flavors, making the burger too bready.
When you think about it, the hamburger is the nearly perfect meal. Meat, vegetables, and bread, in one serving. Add fresh fruit on the side and you have completed the nutritional picture, or save the fruit for dessert - see the next tip..
Wine and fruit for dessert
Who knows if dietary ‘studies’ really yield reliable results - so many have mislead us. But here’s one out of Hebrew University that cannot hurt even if wrong.
For those of us who enjoy a glass of wine for dinner, save it for the last. The study says the anti-oxidant benefits of wine and a fresh fruit are greatly enhanced if consumed as dessert. While you’re at it, why not include a bit of dark chocolate and a couple of nuts. Sounds good to me.
That’s it for the July newsletter. We hope your Independence Day celebration was a good one, but remember Darrell Royal’s motto all year long - “It’s great to be great, but it’s greater to be an American.”