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Burgers have some things in common with fish: less is more when it comes to preparation, and freshness and quality is pretty much all.  The high end burger joints popping up (and the high end burger chains like 5 Guys and Smashburger) know this.  You need really good beef, freshly ground, and a good pinch of salt.  More than that is gilding the lily.

Another burger truth: although lots of us think of them as the ultimate cookout food, they're probably best done inside, in a heavy saute pan or a cast iron skillet.  Or a griddle/flat top if you have one. 

So when we here in the Swanky Neighborhood do burgers at home, we go to a good store for the makings.  We've been known to grind our own beef (which is a bit of a chore, but if you've got a kitchenaid with a grinding attachment, it does pay off).  And we're advocats of grass-fed beef, which tends to be a bit leaner (another reason to cook the burgers inside; a grill can dry them out before they're done enough). 

Good buns are important, too.  I don't have religion on a brand, and I've even enjoyed a burger on a nice Kaiser roll.  I like sesame seeds.  My husband likes bacon burgers; I don't particularly (it's a texture thing).  American cheese is, of course, the classic topping, but I made some kick-ass burgers this week with some mild sliced Gouda I got at the local Aldi's.  Other than that, I like sauteed mushrooms, portobello preferred.  Mustard, not catsup, although I put both bottles out.  And sometimes, just a wee smear of mayo.  Sliced tomato when really good summer ones are around.  Sometimes a wee bit of lettuce.

How to cook?  I do four burgers to the pound of ground beef: round or chuck, but if you're using round, be careful about drying it out.  Handle the meat gently as you form the patties.  If you're cooking inside: scatter a few pinches of kosher salt in the bottom of a cast iron fry pan, heat it, and cook over medium high heat, flipping once.  Salt as you cook if you are using a griddle or a grill.  

I will eat other kinds of beef quite rare, but super-rare hamburgers are kind of gross.  I aim for pink, not red in the middle, and a nice crust.  Even if you screw up and cook a burger made of high-quality meat medium well, all is not lost.  (5 Guys cooks 'em this way all the time, and their burgers taste pretty good.)

Fire 'em up--and see you on the air today at 3!  We're doing a Friday Dinner Party this week, and I'll be crossing over with The Old Fart. 

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