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Sep 17, 2012

Our Favorite Weeknight Burger


I love hamburgers. They're comforting. And I've long been on a quest for a juicy burger that I can cook indoors (I use a griddle) and incorporate into our weeknight dinner rotation.

After many burger experiments and the creation of possibly the driest burger known to man, I finally solved my burger issues and now have a go-to burger recipe that I can count on. Move over, McDonald's!

Of course, it's a much-healthier burger than you would find at your local fast food joint. It's made with lean ground beef and panko bread crumbs . But don't worry, it's still juicy... if you play by the rules.


Our Favorite Weeknight Burger

 Ingredients:

1/2 Cup panko bread crumbs (not as compact as regular breadcrumbs, which creates a lighter burger)
6 Tablespoons Milk (skim if you're counting points)
1/2 Tablespoon Salt
1/2 Tablespoon Pepper
2 Cloves Garlic, Minced
1/4 Cup Barbeque Sauce (we use Sweet Baby Ray's Honey BBQ Sauce, but your favorite will do!)
 2 Pounds Ground Beef (95% lean, if you're counting points)

Instructions:

Pour panko bread crumbs and milk into a large bowl and mix with a fork until the two are fully combined. (This is called a panade. The starch in the bread absorbs the milk to form sort of a gel that coats the meat and keeps it moist and tender.)

Stir in salt, pepper, garlic, and BBQ sauce and mix with a fork until all ingredients are fully combined.

Break up beef into small pieces over the mixture. Using your hands, lightly mix together until everything is well-integrated. (Don't over-work the meat or your burgers will be tough.)

Divide meat into 9 equal portions. (Your best bet is to use a kitchen scale to get equal portions. Measure the entire portion of meat first, and then divide by 9. Dividing by a lesser number will make your burgers higher in Weight Watcher points.)

Cook burgers over a grill, griddle, or skillet until they reach desired "doneness." Use an instant-read meat thermometer and this simple chart to get the best results: 

Rare: 120° - 125°
Medium Rare: 130° - 135°
Medium: 140° - 145°
Medium-Well: 150° - 155°
Well: 160° and above

Serve burgers on lightly toasted buns, dressed to your own liking. (Use light buns and low-calorie condiments for a lower point burger.)

Makes 9 Servings at 4 Weight Watchers Points Plus per serving (without bun & fixings).


As I was researching techniques that would solve my burger issues, I came across several good tips on creating a better burger. Here are ten that I thought were very useful:
  1. Start with a panade to create a juicier, more tender burger even if it's well-done.
  2. Don't over-work the ground meat. The more you work the meat, the tougher the burgers will be.
  3. After making the ground meat mixture, put it in the fridge for about 30 minutes before forming the patties. It'll be easier to shape the patties when the meat is chilled. 
  4. Wetting your hands before forming the patties will prevent the meat from sticking.
  5. Use a kitchen scale to create more uniform burgers. This is also very important if you're counting Weight Watchers Points!
  6. Using your fingertips, create a slight dimple in the center of each burger patty to prevent them from puffing up as they cook.  
  7. Burgers shrink during cooking, so make them a little bigger than the size of the buns you're using.
  8. Don't press the burger down with a spatula during cooking. All of the delicious juices will escape!
  9. Use an instant-read thermometer to ensure your burgers are not over or under-cooked.
  10. For a better-tasting cheeseburger, buy a quality block of cheese and shred it yourself. A little goes a long way when it comes to flavor, especially when you're counting Weight Watcher Points!
Bonus Tip: Use soft, toasted buns for an even better-tasting burger. This will also impress your guests if you happen to be sharing these yummy burgers.

Enjoy!

Do you have a favorite burger recipe? What about any good burger-cooking tips?  


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