How to make hamburger patties from scratch

So you want to know how to make your own hamburger patties?  OK, but don’t expect a recipe!  Rather, like Soup, Deconstructed, you’ll find how to make hamburger patties yourself – without following a recipe.
Now why would you want to do that?  Why wouldn’t you just want a recipe for making hamburgers?
Because you might not always have the same ingredients on hand.  Or maybe last time you had 1.8 pounds of ground beef and this time you have 2.32 pounds.  Or maybe you have a taste preference, and would rather not use breadcrumbs.
So what you need is to learn, then, is A) what makes a good hamburger patty, and B) what are the components needed to make one!
Well, as far as what makes a good one – obviously taste ranks really high.  Also the size after you’ve cooked it – you don’t want patties that shrink down to nothing when you grill them.  And speaking of grilling, you want to make hamburger patties that stay together on the grill, and don’t crumble away to nothing, between the bars of the grill.  Finally…I want hamburgers to be an affordable option, and not something that is too expensive to enjoy regularly.
And the components that make it work?  You need ground beef (obviously!), you need seasoning, you need a ‘stretcher’, and you need a binder to hold it all together.
Step One
For those of you who really, really wish I would be more specific on amounts, here are approximates… Mix this all together with your hands, in a large bowl.  (I usually add the ground beef last, to reduce the risk of cross-contamination!)
3 pounds of ground beef
1/2 to 1 cup of oatmeal
2 eggs
a good shake or two of Montreal Steak seasoning  (you knew I wouldn’t get too specific, right?)
Ground beef:  I like to buy ground beef that is only 7% fat, but if that is too expensive, up to 15% will do.  I *refuse* to buy ground beef in wrappers that are not transparent, like those little one pound chubs.  Those things always make me wonder, what are they trying to hide?
Seasoning:  Look, I grew up in Montreal, OK?  So if you’re asking me what is the right seasoning for hamburgers, the only possible answer is Montreal Steak.  Lucky for you, it’s available on Amazon, so you don’t even have to go to Montreal to get it.
The Stretcher:  You know how a lot of hamburger, meatloaf, and meatball recipes have breadcrumbs in them?  Well, I have a horrible little secret for you – the main point of the breadcrumbs is to stretch the ground beef, to feed more people!  Yes, it’s the sort of frugal living thing that The Millionaires Next Door would do, so it’s a good thing!
But I have to admit that I find bread crumbs to be uninspiring at best.  That’s why, if you look at the photo above, you’ll see that the hamburger patties are flecked with oatmeal.  🙂 Oatmeal gives a much nicer texture than breadcrumbs, and being pure whole grain, it’s a lot better for you, too!
Binder:  Finally, add an egg or two to bind the meat, seasonings, and oatmeal together.
Step Two
Next step, shaping the patties!  Line a large baking sheet with wax paper, and tear yourself enough wax paper to cover it a second time.  You’re going to double stack them, as shown in the photo.
Ready for some math?  Figure out how many quarter pounds there were in your pack of ground beef, and divide you mixture into that many pieces.  Each ball will become a patty.
So…if you had an even 3 pounds, you’ll make 12 patties.  1.5 pounds becomes 6 patties.  2.3 pounds will give you 9 patties, and so on.
Now, place 6 of those balls on the cookie sheet, arranging them so that they’ll fit nicely once you flatten them out.
Cup one hand to form the edge of the patty, and use your fingers on the other hand to flatten it from the center to the edge, to about 1/2″ thick. Press it back together if it tears.
Repeat till all 6 are done.
Then, add the second layer of wax paper.  Repeat as with the first layer, EXCEPT – use a lighter touch to press them into shape, as it will make the first layer too thin if you press too hard.
If you have more than 3 pounds worth, repeat with another layer.
Step Three
Finally, pop the whole tray in your freezer overnight, and let them freeze solid. Once the hamburger patties are thoroughly frozen, you can cut the wax paper and store them in a gallon Ziploc.
Grill them from frozen, and get a little adventurous with how you serve them. Lettuce, tomato and pickle are great – but it’s always fun to go all out with a slice of pineapple, avocado or blue cheese!

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