Ok, here's my killer hamburger recipe:
2lbs Ground Chuck (i prefer grass fed Angus, but any fresh, naturally dark red ground will do.)
salt & pepper to taste
Massage in salt and pepper (less than you think). Divide meat evenly into four patties, form into roundish shapes no more than about .25in thick (otherwise you get meatballs). Grill or pan fry over medium direct heat until done. Serve with bun or without.
Seriously, that's it. i always get compliments whenever i make these, and while the type of meat i get is a good part of it (Trader Joe's ground chuck is your bestest friend), ultimately, most of the reason is because folks have forgotten what food should taste like.
Recently Anne Marie brought home a copy of Better Homes and Gardens which had a bunch of recipies in it. All of them involved far more steps and ingredients than were really needed. Take the lowly hamburger for instance. How many recipes have you read that call for everything from packets of Onion Soup mix to a whole garden of herbs to a mix of blue, guyer, and Limburger cheeses? Might as well toss in a few bags of Hamburger Helper and skip the beef if that's the plan. Those things cover up the taste of the meat, they don't "accent" it, any more than adding a cardboard spoiler to the back of your Honda makes it go faster.
i think that's also the reason that so many folks are afraid to cook. They're looking at all the various things they think they have to do to make a meal, panicking and thinking that there's no way they're ever going to master being a five star sous chef. Truth is, you don't need to. Heck, good cooking often doesn't require the masterful technique Sous Chefs have to cover up the horrible mistakes made in the main meals manufacture.
If you're afraid to cook, relax.
- 350° is usually perfect for whatever you're making. No, really. That includes your skillet temp (unless you're cooking with a wok, then get that sucker as high as possible.) Otherwise, the only time you should go above the halfway mark on anything is when you've got 2 gallons of water you need to boil.
- Buy yourself a $20 probe thermometer (one of the ones where there's a wire), keep that wire out of direct heat (or wrap it loose foil to protect it) and it'll last you years.
- Keep it simple. Try roasting a chicken with just Kosher salt, fresh ground pepper, and maybe some olive oil to keep it from drying out. Same goes with a pork loin, flank steak or any other meat.
- Try whittling down some of those scary recipes to the bare minimums and see if you like them. Some you will, some you won't. Chances are you won't die if you forgot to add basil, but you'll learn what to add and what you can skip. This stuff is whipped up by folks that like to eat different food than you do, so be willing to experiment.
Again, find out what food should taste like. Try things plain before you try to cover up the taste.
Betcha you find a lot of stuff you never thought you'd like.