Hello Chowhounds! I am in need of some help.
I first of must say that I am the foodie in my house and everyone else in my house it very picky about certain things, and try as I might, I cannot get them to understand that as long as a hamburger has reached 160 degrees, that if there is a little pink inside, it is okay. So when I cook the hell out of them (burning them to a crisp) there is always still some slight pink, so my question is this, besides not having the burger touch...is there something I am doing wrong?
Can there be a burger cooked well done that is not burnt?
Any advise would be greatly appreciated.
OK, I think we need some more info here. How are you cooking the burgers? Are you forming them yourself? Personally I think if you are getting some charring on the outside while still having some pink on the inside then you most definitely have the burger touch. It sounds like you need to perhaps lower your temperature/flame and/or make thinner patties but it's hard to tell since we don't know what methods you are currently using.
add water to the burger meat (about 1/2C per pound), lower the temperature when cooking and then cook them through. some ih jfood's family like the gray burgers as well.
I would just pull your burger off a little earlier and give the rest of your family what they want. I grew up in a family that regarded any pink as raw meat, and they literally cremated everything from a roast beef to steak to burger. A roast beef was cooked in twice the time that was recommended. I truly understood their desire to cook pork and poultry well, but they even went to the length of asking our butcher to slice shell steaks into quarter inch thicknesses so that they could be certain they were well done when they came off the grill (As a result, my growing brothers used to eat several because they were so thin). There is just no accounting for taste. Interestingly, this seemed to be something my parents preferred, since our grandparents appreciated rare and medium cooked meat and didn't like what my mother served. I even remember my mother saying, time and again, that "she loved the burned part." Go figure.
Jfood's suggestion about adding water is a good one, and I have seen recipes that suggest adding milk and/or even a touch of breadcrumb to help. Use a light hand because it does change the texture. Higher fat content, as unhealthy as it sounds, helps too if you cook their burgers long and slow. If they are veggie eaters, you can even add chopped onion and perhaps things like mushrooms and/or green pepper (small dice, sauteed ahead of time), but that may not help if they don't like it.
If I'm reading your post correctly, your family does not like to see any pink in their burgers, regardless of what the internal temperature is? If it is cooked well done, the meat should be grey all the way through. Since I personally dont use a thermometer on burgers or cook well done food, I don't know what the recommended temperatures for well done beef is, but if your family wants it gray all the way through, as much as it pains me to write this, I think you should cook it that way regardless of what the temperature of the meat is. The key would be to make it as juicy as possible in the way they want to eat it.
The options for you to cook it that way would be to either make thinner patties so that the meat is grey all the way through but doesn't cook long enough to really (think fast food size burgers) or to sear both side of a thicker patty and then finish cooking over indirect heat until well done. To enjoy the burgers are at least somewhat juicy, definitely do not use lean ground beef, try ground chuck with 20% fat. You can also use what I call the meatloaf method which would be to add egg, breadcrumbs, onion, etc. to your patty which basically turns a hamburger into a single serve meatloaf or flattened meatball but should enable you to cook through to a solid gray without losing the moisture.
I agree with the posters above. I think that if you don't want to fuss over making seperate types of burgers, just cook the well doners longer on lower heat. Start theirs way ahead and only when they're done to well, start the mediums.
I find people who demand well done, no pink, don't mind a dry product. I'm not saying purposely dry them out, just that as they will tend to be dryer, well doners are usually happy.
I can understand how how well doners have an aversion to pink color (try to explain a smoke ring to them!). I find it amusing how rare people find it an aversion to serve well done - like some steak houses refuse to cook a steak well-done.
This just a side for your amusement (hopefully)...
Back when I ran a kitchen, there was a woman who came in for our 8oz striploin, grilled, well done. It took about 5 tries (on consecutive visits) to get her steak right. First we'd grill it beyond well done, then we'd pop it into the microwave on high for 8 or 9 minutes.
Voila, shoe leather with vegetables and your choice of potato.
She absolutely loved it, go figure. She also added that we were the only place which made the steak as she likes them....
Personally, I like rare, but hey, to each his own, right?
Soak some plain white (preferably stale) bread with no crust in a bit of milk, squeeze out the excess liquid, and add the "panade" to your not too lean beef. The trick that works for meat balls and meatloaf also makes for great well done burgers that aren't dry hockey pucks. I believe America's Test Kitchen did a show on this recently if you wanna search their archives. Adam in Oakland
I use 80/20 ground beef and make the patties thinner also. Instead of water, I use ice chips that melt as the burgers are cooking helping to keep them moist.
Also for those afraid of pink people, I make my patties thinner in the middle than on the sides. The meat seems to cook evenly if the center of the patty is thinner.
Thank you guys so much for all your advise, I actually took a little bit of all of it, and ended up with my new burger cooking method, which resulted is three very moist, juicy, well done burgers...and an excellent larger medium burger for me...
very good indeed.