Cooking meat patties quickly at high temperatures helps maintain the flat shape of the patty and results in patties that are seared outside and tender inside. For the best meat patty, start with ground meat with a fairly high ratio of fat to meat. A ratio of 20 to 25 percent fat results in moist, flavorful meat patties. Although low-fat ground meat is healthy, the flavor and quality of the meat patty is compromised.
Things You'll Need
Divide the ground meat uniformly into loosely rounded shapes by rolling the meat gently between your hands. Place the ground meat on a plate and store it in the refrigerator until 15 minutes before cooking time. Avoid overworking the meat because the patty will lose its light texture and the fat won’t melt evenly.
Turn a burner on medium-high and heat a cast-iron skillet until the skillet just begins to smoke, usually about two minutes. Do not add oil to the skillet because meat is best when it cooks in its own fat.
Place the rounded ground meat in the hot pan, then flatten the meat lightly with a metal spatula. Press your thumb into the center of the meat to create a slight indentation. When the meat patty begins to shrink, the indentation helps to keep the patty flat.
Season the meat patties with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Cook the patty for about two minutes. Flip the patty once and cook the other side until the patty is evenly browned.
Insert an instant-read thermometer into the thickest part of the meat patty. The patty is safe to eat if the thermometer registers at least 160 degrees Fahrenheit.
References and ResourcesThe New York Times: The Perfect Burger and All Its Parts
Saveur: Putting Heat to the Meat
Burger Maker: The Perfect Burger
Food and Wine: Making the Perfect Burger
Michigan State University Culinary Services: Recipe for Health: Lamb Burger Demonstration
University of Illinois Extension: Meat Temperature Chart