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the ghost of burgers past

Recipe by
Andy Anderson !
Wichita, KS

What could more American than burgers grilling up on a beautiful Saturday afternoon... All I am going to say about this burger is it's about the meat. Full Stop. So, you ready... Let's get into the kitchen.

yield 6 serving(s)
prep time 5 Hr
cook time 15 Min
method Stove Top

Ingredients For the ghost of burgers past

  • 1 1/2 lb
    beef bottom round, or skirt steak
  • 1/2 lb
    beef short ribs
  • 2 tsp
    salt, kosher variety
  • 1 tsp
    grapeseed oil, per burger
  • black pepper, freshly ground for seasoning before cooking
  • hamburger buns, i like ciabatta
  • condiments, your choice
  • chips, fries, etc.

How To Make the ghost of burgers past

  • 1
    A trip down memory lane. You’re back in a time when life seemed simpler to your youthful eyes. The sky was an intense blue, and every cloud that passed overhead morphed into fantastic shapes that only your imagination could create. It’s the weekend, and everyone is gathered together for the big End-of-Summer BBQ. You’re running about the yard playing tag with your brothers, sisters, and various cousins, while the adults sit under the pavilion on multi-colored deck chairs, keeping cool, sipping on their favorite adult beverages, and having their adult conversations. Occasionally, one of them looks in your direction, smiles, and waves. Dad is in charge of the grill, and he takes that duty very seriously. Earlier in the day, he went to the store and picked out some brats, and beef for the burgers. He would have the butcher grind two different types of beef together, and then wrap it all up in white butcher’s paper. Then, he would bring the beef home, shape it into patties (every one had to be the same weight and size), and place them into the refrigerator to cool. Everything from the brats, to the buns, to the condiments was lovingly planned. If anyone taught me about planning and organization, it wasn’t The Culinary Institute, or Cordon Bleu… it was my father. Now, the grill is fired up, and the amazing smells coming from that blue/grey smoke are enough to drive you mad. We kids start lining up, and dad hands us a brat on a bun or a burger. These burgers were not loaded with additional “stuff.” Back then; it was all about the meat. Do I like “loaded” burgers… of course I do. However, sometimes simpler is better. And when, in my busy life, I have a chance to relax with one of these burgers, I take a bite, and my mind travels back to a simpler time, where I played on the lawn, and created shapes out of clouds. This one is for you dad… and for all the ghosts of my past. Enjoy.
  • 2
  • 3
    Gather your ingredients.
  • 4
    Cut the beef into 1-inch (2.5cm) cubes.
  • 5
    Sprinkle with the salt, and place into a Ziploc bag.
  • 6
    Allow the meat to sit in the fridge for about 5 or 6 hours.
  • 7
    Chef’s Note: If you know anything about me, you know that I NEVER mix salt in with ground beef before cooking. You can add some to the surface during the cooking process; however, NEVER mix it in with the ground beef. Why? The salt will break down the protein structure of the interior of the beef, and make it a bit mushy. So, why am I salting the beef? Well, in this case the salt is on the outside, and will be used to flavor the meat and distribute moisture content. Once it’s finished its job, it will be rinsed off before grinding.
  • 8
    Remove the beef from the Ziploc bag and thoroughly rinse off all the salt.
  • 9
    Dry off the beef with paper towels.
  • 10
    Grind medium, using a meat grinder, or a food processor fitted with an S-blade.
  • 11
    Form into 6 - 1/3-pound (150g) balls, and flatten into patties 1-inch (2.5cm) thick, by about 4-inches (10cm) in diameter.
  • 12
    Cover and place into the refrigerator, for 1 hour before cooking.
  • 13
    Before cooking sprinkle both sides of the burgers with a bit of freshly ground black pepper.
  • 14
    Place a heavy-bottom skillet over medium-high heat, and add a teaspoon of oil per burger.
  • 15
    When the oil begins to shimmer, add the burger (or burgers).
  • 16
    Cook about 2.5 minutes per side for rare, and 3 minutes per side for medium rare.
  • 17
  • 18
    Serve on rustic buns, with a minimum of condiments.
  • 19
    Chef’s Tip: Choose a good high-density, soft bun, but not a “hard” bun. For this burger I chose to make some homemade soft pretzel buns.
  • 20
    Chef’s Note: In my opinion, this is about the burger, not the “stuff” you load on top of it.
  • 21
    Chef’s Note: In place of “store bought” ketchup, I prefer homemade oven dried-tomatoes, which offer an intense tomato taste that’s more in keeping with the spirit of ketchup.
  • 22
    Keep the faith, and keep cooking.
  • 23
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