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Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Recipe File: Mini Hamburgers

Near the end of September, efsitz, one of our most active posters in the Community Forums, promoted her English Muffin Hamburgers. I haven't had homemade hamburgers in a while (I work next to an In-N-Out Burger, the best fast food on earth), so I decided to share my version of the English Muffin Hamburger. (efsitz uses the larger "sandwich size" English muffin from Thomas' English Muffins, but I chose to use the smaller muffin size.)

First, we'll need two English muffins. I've found that there are no English muffins like Thomas' English Muffins. The supermarket brand muffins just don't taste the same. The term English muffin is a misnomer as they are technically not muffins (and not from England). Instead they resemble crumpets (also a soft yeast dough shaped into rounds and cooked on a griddle). In any case, either make your own English muffins or buy Thomas' brand.

In addition to the English muffins, we'll also need about 1/2 lb. ground beef chuck. Ground beef chuck is excellent for making burgers because it is not too lean and not too fatty. If a burger is too lean, then the patty will be dry and bland to the taste. If a burger is too fatty, well, then it's to fatty. 20% fat seems to be the optimal amount of fat in ground beef to make an excellent burger. Technically, these two ingredients is enough for your hamburger.

Deciding how you want your hamburgers cooked is important. Sometimes you want a thick, juicy burger, and sometimes you want a multiple thin patty burger that's been cooked so the patties have a crisp shell and the inside is done but chewy. I felt the latter would work best on my English muffins.

I split my ground beef into four 1/8 lb. chuck patties and flattened them down into rounds that looked like they would fit the patty. (I did not make my patties large enough because they will shrink a bit while cooking. Flatten them down until they look like they're too big for the muffins.) Don't be too concerned with overworking the ground beef (which can be a problem with thick burger patties) since we're making thin patties.

You can grill or broil these burgers, but heating a pan was easiest for me. I heated an empty pan over medium-high heat until water sizzled and jumped when I tossed in a few drops. Then I transferred the patties over to the pan and started my timer. I was going for well done since these were thin patties, so five minutes on the first side.

The patties don't stick to the pan because some of the fat renders out. Once the first side is done, it should be quite easy to flip them over with a metal spatula. Five more minutes and the other side all also have a gorgeous and tasty crust.

About a minute before the second side is done, any toppings you desire should be placed on the patty. I put some Pepper Jack cheese (Monterey Jack cheese with Jalapeno chiles) on top of my burgers. I then realized that I had some bacon left over from the Bacon Test, Part I and broke some pieces off and placed them on the cheese.

Meanwhile, I had taken my English muffins and halved them with two forks. Using a knife produces a smoother finish on the muffin halves which doesn't toast as well or produce the famous nooks and crannies for sauce and dressing to fill. The muffins went into a toaster for a light toast and I topped one side with poor man's Russian dressing (equal parts ketchup and mayonnaise, adjust proportions to taste). Real Russian dressing should have grated onions and herbs in it. By the way, Russian dressing isn't from Russia... both English muffins and Russian dressing were invented in America by English and Russian immigrants.

I stacked two patties on top of each bottom half of an English muffin.

I slipped in a piece of romaine lettuce for a little crispy texture and plated the burgers with kosher pickles. Dinner in less than fifteen minutes.

Mini Hamburgers (serves 2 or one hearty eater)
1/2 lb. (225 g) ground beef chuckform into four patties5 min. on medium-highflip, cook 4 minutestop, cook 1 minuteassemble
favorite toppings (cheese, bacon, etc.)
2 English muffinssplit with forkstoastspread
favorite dressing
Copyright Michael Chu 2004

posted by Michael Chu @ 10/12/2004 02:00:26 AM   15 comments
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At 1:48 PM, WhizGidget said...

I think that this might have to be something I try out in the next day or two with my kids - I work right near an In-N-Out burger too, but I've gotta try this...

At 6:44 PM, graceshu said...

Mehness. Its raining outside and I'm cold and hungry. Please feed me.

At 4:56 AM, rockmuncher said...

There is a fundamental flaw with this site: true engineers don't cook. They don't even do the shopping. They just drink beer.

Get a life, get another beer.

BTW, have you seen my recipe for vegemite rice?

At 6:53 AM, Merkin said...

For me the most difficult thing about making burgers at home is the bun.
Obviously nobody is going to bake hamburger buns. That would be madness.
The things they sell in supermarkets as hamburger buns are lame. The texture is all wrong. They fall apart.
The buns they serve at In-N-Out are ideal in every way, for that size burger. My ideal at-home bun would be a larger version of that.
Anyhoo -- I suspect that while English Muffins must come close in terms of density and not-falling-apart, aren't they kinda dry? And that dusting of cornmeal or whatever on the outside... not right.

At 7:52 AM, Anonymous said...

Those sweet hawaiian rolls make for good mini-hamburgers as well. I tried to google for a link, but didn't find a good one. Instead I found many links to many mini hamburger recipies that use them.

At 8:43 AM, Anonymous said...

Merkin said..."Obviously nobody is going to bake hamburger buns. That would be madness."

I must be completely mad then, as I have been making my own hamburger/brat buns for about year now. Why? Because I enjoy it, and the end result is much better than anything I have purchased at the store. Besides, you ever read the list of ingredients on those bags of buns?


At 9:43 AM, efsitz said...

Well, I'll be completely darned. I hadn't been over to this site for a day or so (actually, because I felt like I was posting too darn much and I should shut up for a little while), and here I see english muffin hamburgers in full living color! I'm honored.

One of you commented that the muffins might be too dry. I believe this could very well be true IF you didn't have plenty of wet stuff in your burger. I use thick juicy burgers, rather than Mike's multiple-patty approach, and I use lots of ketchup and green tomato relish, so the somewhat drier texture of the english muffin is a welcome contrast. With his russian dressing I imagine Mike achieved a similar effect. I like sliced onions on there, too. With multiple patties you might even be able to put onion between the patties for a tasty layered effect.

Anyway, my point in posting here was just to say THANKS! for trying out an english muffin burger! Too cool.

At 10:53 AM, Anonymous said...

I have also seen this miniturazation (sp?) done with English Muffins and Pizza topping to make bite sized pizza.

At 6:22 PM, Anonymous said...

Cool stuff. Presenting recipes like this make things a lot simpler to see what's going on and when.

At 1:11 AM, Anonymous said...

A homemade patty melt using good quality bread is one way to avoid crap hamburger buns, too.

At 7:05 AM, Anonymous said...

If you have extra time to prepare this dish, before splitting the ground beef, put ½-1 dl water and some spices(garlic, pepper, chili, whatever you like) into a bowl and stir, add the ground beef and mix it to the spice water. Add some wheat flour ½-1 dl and blend it to the mass.
Now split the mass into pattys.
Instead of cooking the pattys on pan or grill, you can do them in oven. ~10 minutes at 350F(175C), or until they look done.

At 8:47 AM, Dave said...

I like hamburgers with peanut butter on them. It may sound a little bit odd, but it actually tastes pretty good. The PB taste will be fairly muted if you use other condiments, but it's there and it fits well. I find it works well with sweet pickles and vidalia (sweet) onions, but poorly with dill pickles and mustard. I think it would go really well with the english muffins, especially if you put something else on that is relatively wet and contrasting.

At 3:16 PM, Anonymous said...

I just found this site today looking for info on how to grill salmon - great idea, great info.

I have a hamburger recipe I've been using for a while now that creates a great tasting burger. to your ground beef, I prefer 85% lean, add finely diced onions, minced garlic and chopped basil, plus salt and pepper to taste. I've added hot pepper flakes on occasion. Mix this up and preferably let it rest for a couple hours in the fridge to allow the tastes to mingle. Form into patties, grill these bad-boys up, add a slice of good deli cheese - Black Forest white american is my favorite, and enjoy.

thanks again, Ken.

At 11:26 PM, Anonymous said...

I have tried the english muffin pizzas, if you use good ingredients it is really good. I have also used bagels which makes for a different texture and all.

Having recently moved to Iowa from Chicago I am having trouble finding good buns (I have mostly been looking for the crusty brat buns or french rolls), they do not have my brands here and I am very picky, I doubt I'm talented enough to make my own, and being single it seems like a lot of work for just me.


At 12:45 AM, Anonymous said...

this mini burger sound good, but i wonder about the english mufin and how dry they could be unless i serve them immeditly.


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