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DIVAS ON A DIME: Spoil dad with gourmet hamburgers at home

With Father’s Day just around the corner, may I suggest giving dear old dad what he really wants, an amazing hamburger. Seriously, who doesn’t love a big, tender, juicy burger? Except for a few vegetarians, every dad I know would agree.

Not the kind of burger you get at the drive-thru, but one a purist would love, with a balance of textures, big beefy flavor, enrobed in cheese. No need to visit your local steakhouse to satisfy that craving. We can make them at home at a fraction of the cost.

There are many ways to make a great burger, but here’s a goof-proof favorite. Let’s make thin burgers rather than thick. Thick burgers have their place, but thin burgers have an advantage I can describe in two words – surface area. The edge, or crust of a burger is full of flavor. I’m talking about the Maillard reaction, friends. This reaction happens when protein reacts with high heat. Thin patties cook quickly and evenly, turn out crispy and caramelized outside, juicy inside. Want more beef? Stack ‘em up.

We can’t talk burgers without talking about ground beef, specifically the fat content. The label tells the ratio of lean meat to fat in the package. The range begins at 73/27 (the fattiest) and goes to 96/4 (the leanest). In my opinion, unless there are health concerns, this is not the time for lean beef. Fat brings juiciness and flavor to the party. If you plan to cook your burgers on the grill, opt for 85/15 to minimize flare-ups caused by fat dripping into the fire. If you’re cooking them in a skillet or under the broiler then I recommend choosing 73/27 hamburger. Just buy extra to account for the loss of weight when the fat drains off.

Regarding cheese, it’s fun to splurge on high quality cheese but you don’t have to invest in a whole block. You can go to the deli and request exactly four thin slices of any cheese you desire, and that’s very affordable.

DAD APPROVED BURGERS

The recipe below makes four single burgers. To make double burgers (and why wouldn’t you?), simply double beef and cheese in the recipe.

Yield: 4 (6-ounce or 8-ounce uncooked weight) burgers

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

What You’ll Need:

1 ½ pounds (85/15) ground beef OR 2 pounds (73/27) ground beef

1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt plus more for crust

¼ teaspoon ground pepper

¼ cup green onion, white and green parts, thinly sliced – optional

1 tablespoon olive or canola oil – grill only

4 thin slices cheese of choice

4 hamburger buns of choice

Serve with your preferred condiments and lettuce, tomato, pickles

Here’s How:

Place ground beef in a large bowl and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Add the green onion, if using. Gently mix the beef to distribute the seasoning and onions. Divide your ground beef into 4 equal portions. Roll into a ball then place onto a cutting board or other clean work surface. Use your hands or a rolling pin to gently press the burger to between ¼ and ½ inch thickness. At this time, you can cook your burgers immediately, or refrigerate them for later. Right before cooking, sprinkle evenly with a small amount of kosher salt.

To cook:

In a skillet – heat skillet to medium heat, place burgers in the pan without crowding. Depending on the size of your pan, you may need to cook in batches. Once you place the burger, don’t move it for three minutes. This allows the crust to form. Flip burger, top with cheese and cook until the bottom is browned, and the cheese is melted, about 2 minutes. Repeat with remaining burgers.

Under the broiler – Place oven rack to highest position and preheat broiler to high. Place burgers on broiler pan (foil-lined if desired) and place under broiler. Broil for 3 minutes, or until top is well browned and beginning to char. Flip patties and continue to broil for 2 minutes. Top each patty with a slice of cheese, place back under broiler for 25 seconds to melt.

On a grill – preheat the grill to medium-high. Brush the burgers with oil and sprinkle with kosher salt. Place on grill, without moving for 3 minutes on the first side, then flip, add cheese and grill for 2 minutes more. Place on buns, top as desired, and serve.

With the money you’ll save making amazing burgers at home, you might have enough money left to buy Dad a set of matching socks, tie, and handkerchief (don’t do that, really, don’t). Happy Father’s Day!

Lifestyle expert Patti Diamond is the recipe developer and food writer of the website “Divas On A Dime – Where Frugal, Meets Fabulous!” Food photography by www.JasonCoblentz.com . Visit Patti at www.divasonadime.com and join the conversation on Facebook at DivasOnADimeDotCom. Email Patti at divapatti@divasonadime.com

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