Homemade Hamburgers & Buns

We loooooove hamburgers… or as we say in our house, hamboogers. We are totally children, seriously. We have these types of bizarre names for a number of things.. like chicken poo pie… if you can guess what that one is… I won’t go on :)

When we switched to a strict diet of no preservatives (amongst other things) I realized I couldn’t buy the pre-made hamburger buns anymore. Thats fine and everything, I mean, I like making bread.. but this simple meal that just requires mashing ground meat around with egg, onions and spices got a whole lot more complicated. But honestly – the best hamburgers ever. Totally worth every minute.

This recipe is based on my Mom’s recipe for hamburgers. She would always add breadcrumbs to the mixture. One day she told me about this amazing way to make meatballs (I think thats what it was), where you add crumbled or finely chopped bread, or stale bread, and add some milk so the bread absorbs it. I applied this to my hamburgers and they are always so tender and juicy. Her hamburgers were always great though, those bits of onion keep it tender without the patty getting too dense when its cooked.

I thought this would be a good use for my CSA eggs, red onions, over ripening heirloom tomatoes, and leftover beet greens. And ooooo! I got to use my homemade pickles and ketchup too! I actually managed to make some fries (baked), don’t ask me how. I had some potatoes from my CSA that needed using. If I buy potatoes from the store I try to get organic ones because potatoes are amongst the worst veggies for being highly contaminated with pesticides. And yup… there’s an app for that!

I don’t worry to much about cooking my hamburgers until the ‘juices run clear’ or whatever, just as long as its not raw inside… I want a hamburger, not beef tartar :) But the reason is because I know where my meat comes from and I know how they are raised. I also know what meat goes into the ground beef. I have heard horror stories about grocery store prepackaged beef and that you must cook it completely through because a lot of those cows are diseased, dead or half dead upon arrival at the slaughterhouse… and they still process them. I wish I was exaggerating about that. I watched this film about GM foods recently, and it was just frightening. Thank goodness my city is surrounded by farms and that I am lucky enough to buy my meat directly.

If you are in the area, I get my beef from Eatwell Foods at Duenk Farm. Karen and Peter are amazing, and Karen’s last name is Eatwell! How about that, huh! I LOVE her ground beef. Its the best I’ve ever had!

Anyway, enough of my ranting! And if you still have your appetite and have made it this far, well done! You are a good sport and deserve a recipe!

Hamburger Buns

Recipe adapted from the Joy of Cooking

2 1/4 t. active dry yeast
3 T. warm water — 105 to 115F
1 cup milk — 105 to 115F
 (I use whole raw milk)
5 tablespoon butter, melted
1 tablespoon sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups bread flour
1 1/2 to 2 cups all-purpose flour (I use all hard flour)

Oil for greasing

Milk wash:
2 tbsp milk or cream
seeds of your choice (I use poppy and sesame seeds)

Mix the yeast in the warm water and let it stand for roughly five minutes until the yeast dissolves and is frothy.

Add the milk, butter, sugar, egg and salt and stir until combined. At a low speed, gradually add the bread flour. Then, gradually add the all-purpose flour until the dough is moist but not sticky. The dough should be tacky to the touch and come away from the sides of the bowl, forming a ball on the dough hook (if using a stand mixer). Adding too much flour will make the dough dry and the bread will turn out tough and heavy.

Knead the dough for ten minutes until it is smooth and elastic. Place the dough in an oiled bowl, cover it and let it rise for 1 1/2 hours. If your house is too cold, put the dough into a warm oven, but not too hot or you will kill the yeast, and don’t forget to turn the oven off! The temperature should be around the same as your warm water for the yeast – 105 to 115 F.

Punch down the dough and turn it out onto a floured surface. Divide the dough into 8 pieces and shape them into balls. My hamburgers are huge so I need larger buns. For smaller hamburger buns you might want to split the dough into 10 or 12 pieces. Place them on a parchment paper covered baking sheet. Cover them with plastic wrap and let them rise for about an hour, until doubled in size. Don’t worry if they attach slightly to each other, its nice when you bake them and can pull them apart.

Brush the buns with the milk wash and sprinkle with seeds. Bake them at 400F (the recipe says to bake at 425, but I like my buns on the lighter side) for 10-15 minutes until a golden crust is formed.

You can refrigerate these for a couple days or freeze them. But, of course, they are best right away! :)

The dough is done when it forms a ball on the hook and clears the sides of the bowl. It should still be pretty tacky.

Hamburger Patties

Recipe adapted from Mom

1 pound regular ground beef (if using lean drizzle in a bit of olive oil)
2-3 green onions, chopped
1 small clove of garlic (or half of a large clove), grated
1 egg
2 tsp fresh parsley, chopped (or 1 tsp dried)
About one large piece of bread (can be stale), crumbled finely
1 tbsp milk
1 tsp salt
Freshly cracked black pepper to taste

Toppings that I used:

Homemade ketchup
Homemade grainy mustard
Homemade (by a friend) relish
Homemade pickles
Red onion
Beet greens
Raw milk white cheddar cheese

In a large bowl, combine the bread and milk together and let soak for about 5 min. Add the rest of the ingredients into the bowl and mix with your hands to combine. Form into 4 equally sized patties.

Heat a cast iron pan over medium heat (or you could cook this on the bbq too of course), drizzle in a bit of olive oil and cook the burgers (only two fit in my cast iron at a time). Once nicely browned, flip the burgers and add some sliced cheese. I turn down the heat a bit at this point and cover the pan to melt the cheese. Once the cheese is melted, my burgers are usually done. Serve on the buns with your favourite toppings.

These patties also freeze well, just make sure to wrap up tightly to reduce freezer burn.

Don’t forget some oven baked fries!

These were sliced into fries and boiled for about 5 minutes and then baked in the oven (at about 450) with olive oil and sea salt. Skins on!