The steps to making a perfect burger start out with ground meat and buns; the rest is up to you. Set up a toppings bar with all your favorite fixings and let everyone make their own burgers. From the book "Mad Hungry," by Lucinda Scala Quinn (Artisan Books).
- 6 buns for hamburgers
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened
- Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 pounds ground beef, formed into 6 patties
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce (optional)
- 6 slices mild cheddar cheese
- 1/2 red onion, thinly sliced (about 1/2 cup)
- 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
- Ketchup, (optional)
- Mustard, (optional)
- 3 lettuce leaves, cut in half
- 3 dill pickles, thinly cut horizontally
Preheat the broiler or preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Cut the buns in half and place them cut side up on a rimmed baking sheet. Spread with the butter.
Heat a large skillet over high heat. Generously salt and pepper the beef patties. Space the patties in the skillet without touching, and cook, without turning or flattening, for 4 to 6 minutes (depending on thickness). Turn the burgers and cook for another 4 to 6 minutes. If desired, swirl the Worcestershire into the pan 2 minutes before the burgers are finished. (Do this if you have inferior meat or no ketchup.)
With 1 minute left to cook, place a cheese slice on each burger. Cover with a pot lid and cook until melted. Lay onion slices on top of the melting cheese. (If using sauteed onions, place under the cheese before melting.) Remove the burgers to a plate or board to rest for a few seconds before placing them on the buns.
Meanwhile, broil or toast the buns for 1 to 5 minutes, until golden on the cut side and still soft on the outside.
Spread mayonnaise on one side of each bun. Lay a burger on top. (Top with ketchup and mustard, if using.) Garnish with lettuce and top with the other half of the bun. Serve immediately with a side of sliced dill pickles.