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Using ice cubes to grill hamburgers

Hamburgers and hot dogs are the quintessential American summer foods, and everyone needs to be able to do at least one of them well. Truthfully, there's not much you can do with hot dogs besides choosing a good brand and boiling them in a good beer. When grilling outdoors, pick your favorite, make sure your coals are right, and concentrate on quality condiments.

For hamburgers, I like 85% lean ground beef because it has enough fat to sizzle well in both the oven and on the grill without too much shrinkage. I avoid hamburger meat in those plastic tubes in the grocery store. As a wise old chef told me years ago, "Never trust a meat you can't see."

There's a weird but effective burger hack that I picked up years ago: put an ice cube in your hamburger patties before grilling them. There's some controversy as to whether Master Chef Graham Elliot invented this, or if it was James Beard himself, but it's a great way to keep your burgers juicy on the grill. It also works equally well in the oven.

To use this method, form ¼ to ⅓ lbs of ground beef into thick patties, then use your thumb to make an indentation in the center of each patty. Place the ice cube in the hole and pinch some meat around it to hold it in place. Season and grill or broil normally. It may require a few extra minutes because of the ice, but as the burgers cook the meat will absorb the water. If you're grilling, don't mash the burgers (it squeezes out the juice and defeats the purpose), and try to keep as much of the ice cube in the burger as you can when you flip it. You'll fail, but at least try.

Once the burger is fully cooked, let it rest for a few minutes to let the steam condense and be absorbed by the meat before serving. You'll be amazed at just how juicy your burger is!

If you want to take this hack one step further, make ice cubes from beef broth with a small amount of spices (salt, pepper, onion) the night before. This makes each bite of the burger explode with beefy goodness in your mouth.

There are variations of this hack using a pat of herbed butter in ground sirloin, but here's another one of mine that works particularly well:

-Mix 6 tablespoons of bacon fat (room temperature) with 1 tablespoon of Better Than Bullion® paste (Roasted Beef, or whichever flavor you like best).

-Chill, then fold a pattie around 1-2 teaspoons of this mix to make a ball, and flatten it out again.

-Grill, let rest, and serve with the components to make the best bacon cheeseburgers on the block.

Dr. Bill Chitwood is a retired Child, Adolescent and Family Psychiatrist who does political consulting and media relations. He is the author of Beyond Maga, available on Amazon under his pen name, Doc Contrarian. He can be found on Substack and social media as @DocContrarian.

 

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