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America's Test Kitchen Burger Recipe

You'll Never Buy Ground Beef Again Once You Learn This Hack

Leave it to America's Test Kitchen to come up with the best burger-making technique. It begins with freshly ground meat. I've never attempted to grind my own meat before, as I don't have a meat grinder, but this recipe doesn't require one! All you need is a food processor. Cubes of meat and butter are frozen before being pulsed in a processor until "rice-like." It amazed me how easy and mess-free this method really is. Since the meat is frozen, it doesn't turn gummy and stick to the sides of the processor. I hesitated seasoning the burgers with so much salt, but ATK's measurements are foolproof.

Over the weekend, my dad and I threw these burgers on the grill for five minutes and they cooked through. If you're more of a medium-rare kind of fan, I would even suggest cooking them three to four minutes. "You can always throw a burger back on the grill," my dad wisely advised.

The flavor of this burger is unbeatable. The butter keeps the meat moist while charring the exterior. Salt and pepper is really all you need to draw out the flavor of the beef. We dressed ours up the classic way, with ketchup, pickles, tomato, and lettuce on a sesame bun, but the topping combos are unlimited. I definitely plan on making this my go-to burger recipe.

Tender, Juicy Grilled Burgers

Tender, Juicy Grilled Burgers

Notes

Why this recipe works: Patties made of preground chuck are easy, but we were after a charred crust, rich beefy taste, and juicy interior that are hard to get from supermarket ground beef. This is because the way ground beef is handled during processing draws out sticky proteins that create a dense texture in the burger. To avoid this, we ground our own meat and switched from chuck to sirloin steak tips, which contain less connective tissue and just the right amount of fat. We froze the meat to make grinding easier and added butter for flavor and richness. We also froze the patties after forming them to ensure that by the time they’d thawed at their centers, they had developed a perfect outer crust. We cooked the burgers over a superhot fire for great char and flavor.

This recipe requires freezing the meat twice, for a total of 1 hour 5 minutes to 1 hour 20 minutes, before grilling. When stirring the salt and pepper into the ground meat and shaping the patties, take care not to overwork the meat or the burgers will become dense. Sirloin steak tips are also sold as flap meat. Serve the burgers with your favorite toppings or one of our grilled-vegetable toppings. If making a grilled-vegetable topping, start preparing the topping while the patties are in the freezer and grill the vegetables before you grill the burgers. Finish the topping while the burgers rest. You can also toast the buns on the grill while the burgers rest.

America's Test Kitchen Burger Recipe

Ingredients

  1. 1 1/2 pounds sirloin steak tips, trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch chunks
  2. 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
  3. Kosher salt and pepper
  4. 1 (13x9-inch) disposable aluminum pan (if using charcoal)
  5. 4 hamburger buns

Directions

  1. Place beef chunks and butter on large plate in single layer. Freeze until meat is very firm and starting to harden around edges but still pliable, about 35 minutes.
  2. Place one-quarter of meat and one-quarter of butter cubes in food processor and pulse until finely ground into pieces size of rice grains (about 1/32 inch), 15 to 20 pulses, stopping and redistributing meat around bowl as necessary to ensure beef is evenly ground. Transfer meat to rimmed baking sheet. Repeat grinding in three batches with remaining meat and butter. Spread mixture over sheet and inspect carefully, discarding any long strands of gristle or large chunks of hard meat, fat, or butter.
  3. Sprinkle 3/4 teaspoon salt and one teaspoon pepper and over meat and gently toss with fork to combine. Divide meat into four portions. Working with one portion at a time, lightly toss from hand to hand to form ball, then gently flatten into 3/4-inch-thick patty. Press center of patties down with your fingertips to create 1/4-inch-deep depression. Transfer patties to platter and freeze for 30 to 45 minutes.
  4. For a charcoal grill: Using skewer, poke 12 holes in bottom of disposable pan. Open bottom vent completely and place disposable pan in center of grill. Light large chimney starter two-thirds filled with charcoal briquettes (four quarts). When top coals are partially covered with ash, pour into disposable pan. Set cooking grate in place, cover, and open lid vent completely. Heat grill until hot, about five minutes.
  5. For a gas grill: Turn all burners to high, cover, and heat grill until hot, about 15 minutes. Leave all burners on high.
  6. Clean and oil cooking grate. Season one side of patties liberally with salt and pepper. Using spatula, flip patties and season other side. Place burgers on grill (directly over coals if using charcoal) and cook, without pressing on them, until browned and meat easily releases from grill, four to seven minutes. Flip burgers and continue to grill until browned on second side and meat registers 125 degrees (for medium-rare) or 130 degrees (for medium), four to seven minutes longer.
  7. Transfer burgers to plate and let rest for five minutes. Serve on buns.
Image Source: POPSUGAR Photography / Anna Monette Roberts
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