When the plane landed at SFO some 5 and a half hours from JFK (3 movies to be precise) I disembarked back to my springtime world of warm days and blustery afternoons. The heat in the San Joaquin Valley is less dense than the coastal cool air and creates a vacuum that sucks my unsuspecting air over to Los Banos and Stockton in the form of a windy afternoon. I spent the day Sunday sleeping off the jet lag and moseying about the house. Fortunately there was Memorial Day to regain my culinary footing. Sunday started out slowly. By mid afternoon I hadn’t decided on what to grill, and I was running out of time. As usual the grand dames of the street – The Oaks, Sycamores, Magnolias and Crepe Myrtles rustled in the oncoming spring breeze. The royalty here are the redwoods. Huge, old and beautiful, my house is surrounded by them. They barely moved. I stared at them for what seemed like an hour, the endless blue sky a perfect backdrop for such a regal tree and my drifting mind. Still no idea. I looked in the garage for inspiration and there it was – The meat grinder. My mind raced with ideas, finally settling on classic hamburgers – a perfect foil for memorial day.
I flew to the butcher and procured 1 pound of boneless short ribs and 2 pounds of chuck. Gorgeous stuff mind you.
This is cut into 1 inch pieces and placed on a sheet pan. I place the sheet pan in the freezer for about 15 minutes. The meat is firm to the touch. The grinder is readied with the 1/4 inch cutting plate. I switch the power on and it sounds like a turbine engine about to take off. This reminds me to keep my digits away from this thing. Little by little I push the meat into the shoot and worms of ground meat is extruded out the end of it. This actually looks more appetizing than it sounds.
At this point proceed to build your patties. Make a careful ball of meat about the size of a baseball without packing it too tightly. Place it on your sheet pan and gently press down, forming your patty. When you are done, cover these with saran wrap and place them in the fridge until you are ready to toss these on the grill.
Build a nice hot fire in your trusty barbecue and when you can hold your hand over the grate for about 4 seconds, you are ready. Place the burgers on the grate and do not touch them for 4 minutes. Using a thin metal spatula, carefully flip these over. You may apply cheese if you wish. Wait another 4 minutes. Your burger is probably ready. I say probably because 1) I don’t know how thick you made your patty. 2) I don’t know how hot your fire is and 3) I don’t know what kind of watch you have. Toast your buns (oh please. the ones for your hamburger) and build your burger.