×

This site will be undergoing maintenance Monday 10/27 from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. Eastern, 5 p.m. to 5 a.m. Central, 4 p.m. to 4 a.m. Mountain, 3 p.m. to 3 a.m. Pacific

During this time the Pitmaster Club will be closed and the rest of the site may be offline for very short periods of time (hopefully not at all).

We will be back Tuesday morning with a bigger faster server.
Thanks for your patience.

bbq grill and accessories ad
AmazingRibs.com BBQ Logo

message from meathead

Meathead the Barbecue & Grilling Lover Cartoon

Get Smoke Signals,
our FREE e-letter.
No spam. Guaranteed. Enter your email:

bbq ad

http://tinyurl.com/amazingribs

If you like AmazingRibs.com, please save this link and use it every time you go to Amazon. Amazon and many other websites pay us a small referral fee when you click our links and purchase from them. It works on everything from grills to diapers, Amazon never tells us what you bought, it has zero impact on the price you pay, but has a major impact on our ability to improve this site!

Digital Thermometers:
Stop Guessing!

thermopop bbq thermometer

Gold BBQ AwardA good digital thermometer keeps me from serving dry overcooked food or dangerously undercooked food. You can get a professional grade, fast and precise splashproof thermometer like the Thermopop (above) for about $24. The Thermapen (below), the Ferrari of instant reads, is about $96. It's the one you see all the TV chefs and all the top competition pitmasters using. Click here to read more about types of thermometer and our ratings and reviews.

bbq thermapen

Join our new Pitmaster Club!

Support the website that supports you and get some nifty benefits:

A Comprehensive Food Temperature Guide Magnet that sells for $9.95 on Amazon.com.
Live video seminars with top Pitmasters.
Access to The Pit forum.
Entry into Gold Medal Giveaways.
Support for Operation BBQ Relief.

Click here for details.

benefits to pitmaster club

GrillGrates Take You To
The Infrared Zone

BBQ_grill_grates

Gold BBQ AwardGrillGrates(TM) amplify heat, prevent flareups, make flipping foods easier, produce great grill marks, keep small foods from committing suicide, kill hotspots, are easier to clean, flip over to make a fine griddle, smolder wood right below the meat, and can be easily removed and moved from one grill to another. You can even throw wood chips or pellets or sawdust between the rails and deliver a quick burst of smoke to whatever is above. Every gas grill and pellet smoker needs them.

Click here to read more about what makes these grates so special and how they compare to other cooking surfaces.

The Smokenator:
A Necessity For All Weber Kettles

smokenator bbq system

Gold BBQ Award If you have a Weber Kettle, you need the amazing Smokenator and Hovergrill. The Smokenator turns your grill into a first class smoker, and the Hovergrill can add capacity or be used to create steakhouse steaks.

Click here to read more.

The Pit Barrel Cooker

pit barrel c ooker bbqAbsolutely positively without a doubt the best bargain on a smoker in the world.

This baby will cook circles around the cheap offset sideways barrel smokers in the hardware stores because temperature control is so much easier (and that's because smoke and heat go up, not sideways).

Gold BBQ AwardBest of all, it is only $289 delivered to your door!

Click here to read our detailed review and the raves from people who own them.

scissor tongs

Best. Tongs. Ever.

Gold BBQ AwardMade of rugged 1/8" thick aluminum, 20" long, with four serious rivets, mine show zero signs of weakness after years of abuse. I use them on meats, hot charcoal, burning logs, and with the mechanical advantage that the scissor design creates, I can easily pick up a whole packer brisket. Click here to read more.

Amp Up The Smoke

mo's smoking pouch

Gold BBQ AwardMo's Smoking Pouch is essential for gas grills. It is an envelope of mesh 304 stainless steel that holds wood chips or pellets. The airspaces in the mesh are small enough that they limit the amount of oxygen that gets in so the wood smokes and never bursts into flame. Put it on top of the cooking grate, on the burners, on the coals, or stand it on edge at the back of your grill. It holds enough wood for about 15 minutes for short cooks, so you need to refill it or buy a second pouch for long cooks like pork shoulder and brisket. Mine has survived more than 50 cooks. Click for more info.

steak knives for bbq

The Best Steakhouse Knives

Gold BBQ AwardThe same knives used at Peter Luger, Smith & Wollensky, and Morton's. Machine washable, high-carbon stainless steel, hardwood handle. And now they have the AmazingRibs.com imprimatur. Click for more info.


The space above can be yours at our lowest rate. Click here to go to Blogads where you can upload your ad, pick the duration, and pay with credit card. It's easy!

tailgater magazine
digg

diner cheeseburger

Diner Burgers (a.k.a. The Quarter Pounder a.k.a. The J. Wellington Wimpy Burger)

"I will gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today." J. Wellington Wimpy

By Meathead Goldwyn

Hamburger America book by MotzDiner Burgers are small disks, 4 ounces or less, as opposed to big thick Steakhouse Steakburgers. When burger experts are asked, the majority prefer to cook their thin patties on a hot griddle over an open flame.In George Motz's excellent guide to the best burgers in the country, Hamburger America: One Man's Cross-Country Odyssey to Find the Best Burgers in the Nation, 81 of the 100 burgers he describes are griddled, four are steamed or deep fried, and just 13 are cooked by an open flame.

Why? It's all about the browning the meat surface, it's all about the Maillard reaction.

But if you try to do a diner burger in your kitchen, you will almost certainly make the smoke alarm cry, and you will also be crying because you will be scrubbing spatters off the top of the range for hours. Next time you are sitting at the counter, notice the huge exhaust fan over the griddle, and how greasy the floors are. So the perfect homemade diner burgers are cooked, where else, outdoors, on our grills.

First, let's try and get the nomenclature straight. Chances are that"Charlie's Bar and Grill" does not have a grill. It probably has a large flat thick heavy piece of steel heated from below. A griddle. A griddle the cooks by conduction. A grill cooks mostly by radiation as heat rises from open flames through open grates. If you hear the waitress say "Toss a burger on the grill, Charlie" she is really referring to the griddle. Just don't correct her.

themodynamics of a griddle

Charlie is often called the grill man, but just as often he is called a "fry cook", and just as often griddled burgers are called "fried". This is only partially correct. The meat cooks in a thin layer of its own rendered fat on the griddle, but this is not really the same as frying, which usually involves a bit more oil. So from here on, we shall refer to the method correctly, as griddled.

The griddle has a distinct advantage when used properly. The food surface is in contact with the heat source with only a thin layer of oil in between, so it gets brown on most of the surface. On a real grill, the grates get hot and are in direct contact with the food, so you get dark browning only where the grates touch the food, hence the grill marks. On a griddle browning happens rapidly, so the method is ideal for thin burgers, like quarter pounders.

The best tasting burgers are the ones that are darkest color on the outside. Now this means that you cannot have a rare Diner Burger. By the time the surface gets to the right color, the meat is well done. That's why a high fat content of the meat is so important. As discussed in The Zen of Hamburgers, a 20 to 30% fat burger will remain juicy even when the surface is cooked until it is GBD (Golden Brown and Delicious).

Also, you need two spatulas, one to smash the raw meat, and a clean one to flip and serve.

Wimpy BurgerRecipe for the J. Wellington Wimpy Burger

I have named my version of the Diner Burger after J. Wellington Wimpy, a character in the Popeye cartoon series, who was addicted to burgers. Popeye ate spinach and was a pugnacious, quarrelsome, hothead sailor. Wimpy ate hamburgers, and he was just a good natured mooch whose favorite saying was "I will gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today." Click here to watch Wimpy make a burger on a griddle in the 1930s.

Makes. 4 quarter pounders. Resist the temptation to make double cheeseburgers. These babies are best as singles.
Preparation time. 30 minutes if you grind your own, 5 minutes if you buy ground chuck
Cooking time. 4 to 6 minutes

The Burgers
1 pound finely ground chuck steak or short rib meat, at least 20% fat
table salt

Mixins
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder (not garlic salt)

Cooking the burgers
1 tablespoon of beef fat, bacon fat, or vegetable oil

The buns
4 hamburger buns
2 tablespoons butter

Condiments
4 slices of bright orange American cheese
4 thin slices of sweet onion
4 leaves of crunchy lettuce
Meathead's burger glop

Method
1) When we make thick Steakhouse Steakburgers, we grind the meat loosely and pack it lightly, but that won't work for thin Diner Burgers. They'll fall apart on the griddle. So if you are grinding them yourself, use the smaller holes on your grinder, or grind the meat twice.

dine burgers raw2) Mix in the mix-ins in a bowl using a fork or your hands. Pack it into a ball about 2" across. A #8 ice cream scoop is 2.75" and, when leveled, holds just about four ounces, a perfect quarter pounder. Use a scoop or a kitchen scale or a ruler until you can make the right size balls blindfolded. Then put them in the fridge for about 20 minutes before cooking so the center does not cook as quickly.

3) Preheat a cast iron griddle or heavy frying pan to about at least 350°F, as hot as you can get it. We want it well above 300 to 310°F, the temp at which Maillard browning happens.

4) Add 1 teaspoon of butter per bun to the griddle. I will foam quickly, so spread it out evenly over the surface, place the buns, cut side down into the butter, press them down with the spatula and put a dinner plate on top of them so they make good contact with the surface, and cook until the bread turn golden. Yes, the tops will be smushed, but the butter will brown and get a nutty taste, and the edges of the buns should be extra crispy. Then remove the buns and wipe the griddle with a paper towel.

diner burger crust5) Melt some beef fat, bacon fat, or pour some vegetable oil on the griddle. You want just a thin coat. Do not use butter. It has too much water in it. When it begins to smoke, add the burger balls, and press down with a solid spatula so there is good contact between the meat and the surface and so the edges are jagged. A slotted spatula will not do the job. You need to smash the burger soon after the patty goes in, and not again until you flip. We don't want to squeeze out hot juices. After smashing, quickly work the spatula or a spoon along the edges, pressing down so they are ragged, thin, and make good contact with the surface. We're going for brown edges here. Sprinkle the top side with salt. Leave the lid open and back away. Don't touch the burgers for about 3 minutes. Maybe 5 minutes, depending on how hot your pan gets. You want them in intimate contact with the surface.

4) Now it will take you a couple of tries to know exactly when to flip, so at first you may have to peek. The bottoms should be dark brown. If they are, gently work a clean spatula under the burgers, pressing on the griddle to make sure you don't leave brown bits behind and that they don't break apart. I sharpen my spatula on a grinder to make sure the egdes don't leave brown bits behind. Flip the burgers and press them into into max contact with the surface but not so hard that you squeeze out vital fluids. Leave the juices in the meat. No need to salt if you salted the other side. If you are making a cheeseburger, place the cheese on now and close the lid on the grill. If you are working indoors, place a mixing bowl, pie pan, pot, or disposable aluminum pan over the burgers to speed the melting of the cheese. Check the color of the bottom after 2 minutes. Don't take them off until the surface is right, even if you fear the interior is overcooking. If you got 20 to 30% fat meat and you didn't cook too hot, they'll be juicy. When they are GBD, serve them immediately.

This page was revised 5/19/2013


Please read before posting a comment or question

grouchy?1) Please use the table of contents or the search box at the top of every page before you ask for help, then please post your question on the appropriate page.

2) Please tell us everything we need to know to answer your question such as the type of cooker and thermometer you are using. Dial thermometers are often off by as much as 50°F so if you are not using a good digital thermometer we probably can't help you. Please read this article about thermometers.

3) If you post a photo, wait a minute for a thumbnail to appear. It will happen even if you don't see it happen.

4) Click here to learn more about our comment system and our privacy promise. Remember, your login info for comments is probably different from your Pitmaster Club login info if you are a member.

Moderators

LeaderDog.org Ad on BBQ site

About this website. AmazingRibs.com is all about the science of barbecue, grilling, and outdoor cooking, with great BBQ recipes, tips on technique, and unbiased equipment reviews. Learn how to set up your grills and smokers properly, the thermodynamics of what happens when heat hits meat, as well as hundreds of excellent tested recipes including all the classics: Baby back ribs, spareribs, pulled pork, beef brisket, burgers, chicken, smoked turkey, lamb, steaks, barbecue sauces, spice rubs, and side dishes, with the world's best buying guide to barbecue smokers, grills, accessories, and thermometers, edited by Meathead.

This site is brought to you by readers like you who support us with their membership in our Pitmaster Club. Click here to learn more about benefits to membership.

Advertising on this site. AmazingRibs.com is by far the most popular barbecue website in the world and one of the 50 most popular food websites in the US according to comScore, Quantcast, Compete, and Alexa. Visitors and pageviews increase rapidly every year. Click here for analytics and advertising info.

© Copyright 2014 by AmazingRibs, Inc. AmazingRibs.com is published by AmazingRibs, Inc., a Florida Corporation. Unless otherwise noted, all text, recipes, photos, and computer code are owned by AmazingRibs, Inc. and fully protected by US copyright law. This means that unless you have written permission to publish or distribute anything on this website you have committed a Federal crime. But we're easy. To get reprint rights, just click here. You do not need permission to link to this website. Note. Some photos of commercial products such as grills were provided by the manufacturers and are under their copyright.