And now, from my list of placeholders, I’d like to take a moment to talk about hamburger.
In order to properly cook hamburger patties, you need to account for three things:
1) The size of the average human jaw, and the size of the SPECIFIC human jaws that will be eating the sandwich your patty ends up in.
2) The tendency of hamburger patties to bunch up in the middle when they cook.
3) The potentially cancerous effect of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH).
We’ll start with #3. The research is inconclusive at best, especially when it comes to determining how much PAH you need before you’ve got a measurable cancer risk. The best solution: turn the burger 3 times, rather than allowing it to sit long enough to cook all the way through on a single turning. You’ll get a more evenly cooked burger, less PAH (my favorite carcinogen, by a long shot), and those cool grid-patterns on the burger patty (provided you rotate it 90 degrees with the 2nd flip.)
Now, back to #1. Costco provides these “pre-shaped” fresh burger patties that are pretty close to 2/3 of a pound each. THESE ARE TOO BIG. Unless you’ve got the ability to unhinge your jaw, or can flatten them out to the size of a dinner plate, they’re just useless for sandwiches. Cut ’em in half and reshape them.
#2: When you shape them, make them into concave lens shapes. The rim should be fatter than the middle, and the whole thing should be at least an inch larger than your bun. When they’re done cooking they’ll have flattened out and shrunk inward, and they’ll be just the right size.
I got #3 right when we barbecued last night. I made exactly ONE patty the right way for #1 and #2, though, because I was in a hurry, and I only needed one “small” burger for the kids. The result? My cousin Steve ate his with a fork, Aly, Sandra, and I didn’t finish ours, and Tayler plowed through his with the marvelous mastication only afforded by God Almighty to 1% of the population.
Other than that, the barbecue went well.