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Preparing Burgers for the Grill or Oven

    Preparing Burgers for the Grill or Oven

    This image is not humorous in any way. There is something wrong with this burger. As a burger, it has the misfortune of suffering from “golf ball syndrome,” a dreadful condition that affects millions of burgers every year when they are grilled or broiled. So what’s the worst part? This is directly related to becoming overweight. According to some experts*, burgers weighing 6 ounces or more have an 80% chance of contracting this dreadful illness when cooked on the grill.

    These are some of the symptoms, although there are many more.

    Pic Credit: seiouseats.com
    • Bottom bun sogginess occurs when the burger is too big for the bun, and the diner has to squish the buns together to make the patty more manageable. The bottom bun becomes soaked with juices. TBF is likely (Total Bun Failure).
    • Even if you measure and size the patties before cooking, there will be a wide gap before the edge of the bread. This will force you to take multiple bites without any meat.
    • Since the burger’s thickness approaches its width, it has a central bulge that makes it uncomfortable to hold and difficult to bite into. Hamburgers may get rather big, even spherical, in the extreme.
    • An image of this ailment would be too graphic for Dry Matter. Halfway through cooking, the grill master will observe that the burger is taking the form of a golf ball, which is a sign of overcooking. So, in response, they use the flat side of a spatula to flatten the patty firmly. Flammable liquid fat and fluids splash onto the fire. The final product is a dry, flat patty with thick black soot from the burned fat.

    As this burger shows, it’s possible to avoid this situation almost entirely:

    Pic Credit: seiouseats.com

    To begin with, if you shape the patties to be slightly wider than the bun and create a shallow dimple in the center, you can avoid this problem entirely. When done, it must fit in the bun and lie flat. The diagram below shows a cross-section of the process and should help you understand it.

    Pic Credit: seiouseats.com

    A standard disc shape was used for the top burger, which was created to be the same width as the bread. The bottom patties were made somewhat larger and dimpled. The disc-shaped burger becomes the thick burger on top after being cooked under the broiler, while the dimpled burger flattens out.

    That method has long since been debunked and is mentioned by virtually every authoritative burger source. If this week’s post has taught you nothing else, you have a new method for making food taste better. We don’t simply want to know if something works here at the Burger Lab; we want to know why it works.

    Hot Air

    A common interpretation goes like this: “burger cooking.” Desiccation of the exterior. The environment within begins to heat up, releasing hot air and steam. Sweltering conditions cause a buildup of steam and heat. The burger is quite fluffy.

    To put it another way, hot air. Several arguments show that the hypothesis is flawed. One mystery is why puffing happens when grilling or broiling a fatty burger but not when pan-searing. That’s right! The burger below was formed in the same way as the puffed burger above, except I pan-fried it instead of broiling it:

    Pic Credit: seiouseats.com

    The burger expands just so little, but not even close to the extent of a grilled burger.

    To add insult to injury, I don’t understand what “catching steam” even means. We’ve proven time and time again that you can’t “seal in” the meat’s natural fluids by searing, not even something as thick as a prime rib roast. If the burger isn’t tightly packed, there’s no way to keep the steam inside. less of a chance than my recently departed cat had of snaring another mouse.

    Why does this happen when you grill or broil the burger, and what produces the bulge?

    Struggle at Bulge

    First, I had to know if it was an illusion or if the burger was growing in size and thickness.

    I decided to take measurements before and after broiling to find out, and I measured the burger’s thickness and overall size. To determine the burger’s thickness, a wooden skewer was inserted into the meat and used to draw a line just over the burger’s rim. To determine the diameter, I wrapped the burger in the thread and snipped it off where the two ends met.

    After broiling the burger until it was 130 degrees inside, I put it back together with the same skewer and string.

    Pic Credit: seiouseats.com

    So there you have it; the burger isn’t getting bigger, but its size has shrunk by about 1.5 inches in circumference.

    Hold for a sec – according to everything I’ve read about cooking meat. It’s supposed to shrink as it cooks. When heated, it contracts and becomes smaller. Even though I can see why the burger’s perimeter would decrease, I’m puzzled as to why the burger’s core remains almost the same thickness. Doesn’t it make sense that it would have shrunk there, too?

    I finally understood why this happens: cooking burgers on a grill or under a broiler relies almost entirely on radiation, the direct transmission of energy across space through electromagnetic waves, and so is the only time this phenomenon occurs. When a burger is cooked in a pan, most of the heat is transferred by conduction, which is the process of heat moving from one substance to another via physical contact. Exactly how does this affect the burger’s cooking time?

    Since just one side of the burger is touching the pan, it cooks uniformly across that plane and is barely warmed on the sides. Everyone knows that when you try to pan-sear a fatty burger, the crust that forms on the edges of the patties is pathetic.

    However, radiation from a grill or broiler may heat and brown the patties on all sides, making it a far more efficient cooking method than a skillet. This gave me the key I was looking for.

    Combative Action Both Above and Below the Belt

    When my dad was on the verge of gaining weight, instead of tightening his belt a bit in the hopes that it would prevent his belly from expanding, he stubbornly kept it at the same hole. All of us are familiar with the failures that comparable efforts inevitably bring about. There is no other direction for the stomach to travel but up and over. As the burger’s sides rapidly cook via radiation, they compress like a belt. The meat in the middle of the burger has to escape. However, the shrinking middle makes up for it by compressing and shaping the bulge as the patties’ sides are drawn together.

    Because the sides of a pan-seared burger don’t become as hot as the top and bottom, the resulting bulging isn’t a problem.

    Cooking up a Patty

    Pic Credit: seiouseats.com

    The lesson of the story, in a nutshell? When preparing big (6-ounce or more) burgers for the grill or broiler, shape them wider than you’d like and push your fingers into the center to make a little dimple. Pan-frying a burger negates the necessity for this preparation.

    Wear your belt at the proper circumference, and be honest about your weight. For example, despite having begun making several dozen burgers every week, I am just as slender, trim, and handsome as I was before. The terrible scale is the source of all these fabrications.

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