Chef Dez.

Chef Dez.

ON COOKING: Making the perfect homemade burger

Many people today will rely on the burger toppings, rather than the patty itself.

Part 1 of 3

We are just over one month into summer and many of us rely on our barbecues as our main cooking devices this time of year.

Hamburgers are always a favorite, but there are still countless people that purchase frozen, premade burgers instead of making them from scratch.

Therefore, it is my quest to give you some great ideas for perfecting the homemade burger patty.

This will be a three-part series. This first installment will focus on meat selection, the second on ingredients to add to the hamburger mix, and the last on burger toppings and bread selection.

There are several accounts for where the name ‘hamburger’ is derived, but the most common seems to be from Hamburg, Germany, where people often had what was called a ‘Hamburg Steak’. It consisted of shredded beef mixed with onions and different spices.

Many people today will rely on the burger toppings, rather than the patty itself, to create a flavorful burger. I like to focus on the patty first, then accentuate with toppings. It is much easier to compliment something if it already tastes good on its own.

Let’s start with the selection of meats to use. There are many burgers made with ingredients other than beef, such as chicken, turkey, salmon and even veggie burgers. But I will stick to the traditional focus of beef.

Instead of settling for simple ground beef at your supermarket, head off to your local butcher instead. There you will find a number of choices, such as ground sirloin and ground chuck, as well as a couple grades of ground beef.

Lean ground beef is the most common choice for consumers because it seems to represent the best value. It typically has no more than 17 per cent fat.

Extra-lean ground beef has no more than 10 per cent fat content. This not only makes it a leaner choice, but a healthier one.

Nutritionists will tell you that if you enjoy eating burgers, then extra-lean ground beef in moderation is a great way to help reduce saturated animal fats. If you find it’s too lean, then one could always add a small amount of healthier olive oil to your burger mix.

Ground sirloin offers more robust meat flavor and is somewhat tender, but leaner yet than the above mentioned ground beef options.

Ground chuck, I feel, is the best option. It is from the shoulder area of the cow and has a much better balance of meat and fat, as well as more richness of beef flavor than any other option.

At around 20 per cent, it has more fat than lean ground beef.

But it is important to remember that when it comes to your palate, not your waistline, fat is your friend, as it offers more flavor and juiciness.