It’s hard to get much more American than a hamburger or cheeseburger. Whether it’s being served at your favorite local restaurant, at a barbecue with friends or family, or just being made at home, the possibilities are truly endless! The best part is that you’ll find burgers can be made completely differently in different parts of the United States.
Of course, any great burger starts with a great burger patty. A ratio of meat to fat of at least 80/20 is where you want to start. Some people prefer leaner meat, while others prefer fattier meat. You can also try a grass-fed burger for even more juicy deliciousness! Season the patties generously with salt and pepper, and if desired, add additional seasonings like garlic powder.
Across the United States, two primary cooking techniques dominate the burger landscape. Grilling is a popular method, imparting a smoky flavor to the meat. Preheat the grill to medium-high heat and cook the patties for about 4-5 minutes per side for medium doneness. Remember to flip only once to retain the juiciness. Another technique, known as the the “smashburger” technique, particularly popular in the Midwest, involves pressing the patty onto a hot griddle or skillet, creating a deliciously caramelized crust. Using a spatula, press the patty firmly for a few seconds to achieve that desirable smash effect. Another key ingredient of the perfect burger is cheese! It’s hard to go wrong with American cheese, of course, but you will find different regions prefer using different types of cheeses. You can go pepperjack cheese for a spicier burger, or mozzarella cheese for a silkier burger.
A burger is only as good as its bun. Toasting the bun adds a delightful crunch and prevents sogginess. The traditional sesame seed bun is a versatile choice, but brioche buns have gained popularity for their buttery richness. In certain parts of the country, pretzel buns have become a trendy alternative, offering a unique texture and flavor. Consider toasting and experimenting with various bun options to find the perfect match for your burger.
And last but not least, it’s time for toppings! Traditional toppings include lettuce, onions, and tomatoes. But once again, versatility is your friend. Pickles or even an egg white can be used to truly elevate your burger.
We can see why burgers are so popular, and so many variations exist. The whole point is to test your creativity and see what you like! There’s no right or wrong answer, so take a big swing and enjoy the fruits of your labor!