I have said it before and will say it again…. the cast iron skillet is the most underutilized kitchen item out there-especially when cooking a burger. In the winter, when I am craving a good burger, I use a preheated cast-iron skillet. This, my friends, is the absolute key to the perfect burger. Cast iron is the best method for cooking a burger, a steak, shoot... anything you want to sear the bejesus out of.
While I'm busy preparing the meat, I pop my iron skillet into a 350-degree oven. I let it warm thoroughly for about 30 minutes, then, when I'm ready to cook, I move it over a medium-high burner. I must warn you: Be very careful when handling a hot iron skillet. Use oven mitts or the like to pick up your pan, and make sure not to touch the handle without using them. I like to turn the handle away from me on the stove to resist the urge to touch it.
Finally, add a tablespoon, no more, of olive oil to the pan. If your pan is too hot — take it off the burner for a couple of minutes, then try again. If it beads slightly and shines as it hits the pan, it's ready.
1 1/2 pounds ground chuck (80 percent lean) or ground turkey (90 percent lean)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 tablespoons canola oil
4 slices cheese (optional)
4 hamburger buns, split; toasted
Divide the meat into 4 equal portions (about 6 ounces each). Form each portion loosely into a 3/4-inch-thick burger and make a deep depression in the center with your thumb. Season both sides of each burger with salt and pepper.
Remember to flip once; don't mess with it. There's a tendency among home cooks to poke and prod their burgers. Do not do that. Instead, put in a maximum of two patties at a time into your cast iron skillet (that's for a 12-inch skillet; smaller sizes should do only one). You'll hear an intense sizzle as the meat hits the searing-hot iron. You might even get some smoke. This is good. Now, do not touch it! Resist the urge to move it, check the underside, whatever. What's happening is the screeching-hot pan is creating a ridiculously rich crust. This crust will both seal in flavor and create flavor. It is the ultimate key to a great burger — a thick crust that you cannot achieve on the grill. After about four minutes, or whenever you can see the side of the patty starting to turn from red to brown, carefully flip your patty and repeat on the other side.
Add the cheese, if using, to the tops of the burgers during the last minute of cooking and tent the burgers with aluminum foil to melt the cheese.
Below are some fun burger recipes with Bellisari’s Gourmet Convenience Spreads & Sauces…
Calabrian and Sweet Tomato Fennel Spread+feta+sliced olives
Blue Cheese, Honey & Shallot Spread+sriracha+fried onions
Saigon Street Sauce+pickled red onions+aged cheddar
Barista Sauce+millionaire bacon+queso fresco+peppered mushrooms
Blistered Jalapeno & Fig+gorgonzola+arugula
Balsamic Shallot & Black Garlic+brie+fresh spinach