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Jun 23, 2013 03:55 PM

Hamburgers for one?

I live alone and I'm craving hamburgers. I bought a pound of ground beef not too long ago and froze it, and I'm defrosting it in the fridge now to make Mapo tofu tonight. That'll only use about 1/4 a pound, though, so the rest will be for hamburgers.

Since I'll only be able to eat one a day, what's the best way to preserve the ground beef? Can I mix it with spices, make it into patties, and refrigerate the patties? Or is it better to cook it and then refrigerate?

I know I can't freeze it, as I've already thawed the meat once.

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  1. Unless you are absolutely sure you'll be able to cook the patties tomorrow, I would cook them tonight. You can then keep them in the fridge for 3, maybe 4 days, or freeze them. Yes, you can freeze it again once it's been cooked.

    3 Replies
    1. re: MrsJonesey

      3-4 days? When I was a kid, as long as it didn't grow mold or smell bad we ate it. Cooked burgers are good for a week. ;)

      1. re: mrsfury

        I would rather err on the side of caution when telling someone else how long meat will last.

        1. re: mrsfury

          It depends on personal taste and how efficient your refrigerator is. I find cooked meat is usually a bit 'off' smelling/tasting by the end of the week, so five days is my personal limit for keeping leftovers.

      2. You could also make another dish today with the remaining meat and reheat for dinner in a day or two or three. Make your mapo tofu, make your burger patty for tomorrow, and cook the remaining for tacos or pasta sauce (both of which are examples you could then refreeze for later use).

        1. I wouldn't pre-cook them.

          The patties should keep for a couple of days, at least, wrapped in saran wrap in the coldest part of the fridge.

          2 Replies
          1. re: ipsedixit

            Agreed. If the meat came from a reputable source, and you handle it safely (meaning don't let it warm up, handle it minimally and quickly), they should last for several days in the fridge, individually wrapped.

          2. Cooked hamburger patties can be reheated effectively, carefully, in a microwave. Then just assemble the burger.

            6 Replies
            1. re: Bada Bing

              If the hamburgers are cooked to anything less than well done, no matter how careful you are with the microwave, you'll end up with well done burgers. At least I've never been able to reheat meat to the same doneness as originally cooked. The only effective way I've found of heating meat is sous vide, so you can control the temperature. I've done the homebrew version to reheat steak cooked to rare using a hot water bath with the steak in a ziplock with the air sucked out, and it works well.

              If you like your burgers cooked to well done, then by all means, nuke em and you'll never know the difference.

              1. re: foreverhungry

                As I alluded to above, if I'm going to save a burger for the next day, I slightly offset my grill pan (or skillet) on the burner. I then put the two burgers on it, one directly over the heat and one on the cooler side. When the one over the heat is done, the second burger is only partially cooked.

                The next day, I put the second burger in a steamer, or a colander over a pan of boiling water. After a few minutes the burger is cooked and warmed through, still moist and juicy.

                1. re: JonParker

                  Until mentioned here, I'd never thought about steaming. That's a really good idea.

                  1. re: JonParker

                    Yeah, I forgot that I've used steaming, too. (It really rarely comes up around here, though--leftover hamburgers!)

                    1. re: foreverhungry

                      I guess I think of reheated hamburgers as a relatively compromised foodstuff, so perhaps shooting for a medium rare interior is fussier than I get. As long as the thing is not dried out, I'm fine. But your sous vide approach is sensible.

                      When I use a microwave to reheat anything, though, I don't really see it as a cooking device. I'll take a serving or two of whatever needs reheating, enclose it between two matching plates or bowls, one inverted on the other, with a little bit of water added usually. Then I'll nuke for, say 30-40 seconds, leave it for a minute, nuke again for 20-30 seconds, leave it another minute. The object is to bring the food gently up to a temperature worth eating, and no more, letting the heat spread slowly around. The times adjust upward or downward according to the food mass involved, of course.

                  2. You're getting a ton of different responses here, so there's no good reason why you should take my word for it, but unless the beef was on or past its expiration date when you froze it it should be fine for a couple days in the fridge.

                    If you do precook your burgers, don't reheat them in the microwave. Steam them, either in a steamer or an improvised one made from a saucepan and colander. It'll keep them from turning into hockey pucks.