There are several kinds of hamburgers, ranging from those that come frozen or served up in fast-food chains to the slightly more classy supermarket varieties. Few people, I suspect, have tasted the real thing, which consists of good steak chopped and tenderised, formed into burgers and grilled on charcoal.
The degree of thickness is paramount, since that ensures a crisp, charred outside and a juicy, rare, medium-rare or whatever-you-like inside. I find that 4 oz (110 g) of meat is perfect if it is going to be served in a bun, but 8 oz (225 g) is best for a more sophisticated adult version. Personally, I prefer it to eating a plain grilled steak.
This recipe is taken from Delia Smith’s Summer Collection. Serves 4
If you're on a diet, don't eat a hamburger: it really is vital that it contains 20 per cent fat, as this is what keeps the meat moist while cooking.
If you're using chuck steak, trim off any gristle and sinewy bits but hang on to the fat.
Cut the meat into chunks, put it into a food processor and blend until it looks like fine minced beef: however, don't overdo the processing, because if the meat becomes too fine, the burger will have a bouncy texture!
If you do not have a food processor, pass the steak through the fine blade of a mincer.
Empty the meat into a bowl and season with freshly milled pepper, but don't add salt till after the cooking because it draws out the juices.
Now form the mixture into four rounds, pressing each one firmly together (it won't need egg or anything else to keep it together if you press firmly enough). Now place the burgers on a plate, cover with clingfilm and leave in the fridge until you're ready to cook them.
When the barbecue is good and hot, brush the grill with a little oil to prevent the meat sticking to it, and give the burgers a light coating of oil, too. Grill them for 4-6 minutes on each side, depending on how you like them.
The same timing also applies to a domestic grill turned to its highest setting.
Serve the half-pounders with Mexican Tomato Salsa, Oven-roasted Potatoes with Garlic and Rosemary or, if you like, a blue-cheese salad.