Kathy Maister's Start Cooking

Recipe: How to Make a Hamburger

print recipe card posted in Main Dishes by Kathy Maister

The basis of a hamburger is, of course, the ground beef from which you make the “patties.”

In preparing the patties, I have tried all sorts of “add-ins” to mix with the beef – everything from dried onion soup mix, to eggs, to bacon fat, to grated cheese . The absolute best to add is…nothing at all! Why dilute that pure beefy taste?

When making your own hamburgers, start with 1 ¼ pounds of ground beef with 20% fat content. This will be enough for four big patties.

Normally I buy a lesser fat content, but for really tasty burgers, get the 20%.

(Using clean hands!) Divide the beef into four sections. Gently form each section into a round “patty” shape. It’s not necessary to tightly pack the beef into shape. In fact, you should try to handle the beef as little as possible.

Each patty should measure approximately ¾ inches thick and 4 ½ inches across.

Wrap the extra patties in plastic wrap and freeze them for next week’s dinner.

Before you start cooking the hamburgers, toast the cut side of the rolls. (Untoasted rolls get soggy very quickly.) Lay the rolls out on a baking sheet with sides and put them under the broiler.

It will only take a minute or two, so don’t do anything but stand there with pot holder in your hand, ready to remove the rolls from the oven. (They go from beautifully toasted to burnt in the blink of an eye. Then the smoke alarm goes off and ….you know the rest!)

Preheat your fry pan (on medium- high temperature) by putting a few drops of water in the pan. By the time they have evaporated, your pan will be hot.

Make sure the fry pan you are using is large enough to hold your hamburgers without squishing them together.

Cook the hamburgers (on medium-high) on one side then flip them once, and then cook them on the other side.

Cooking times on each side:

  • 3 minutes for RARE (caution-see note below!)
  • 4 minutes for MEDIUM
  • 5 minutes for WELL DONE

If you want to make a cheeseburger, place a slice of cheese on the flip side about 1 minute before the burgers are done cooking. The heat from the hamburgers will melt the cheese.

Serve your hamburgers with sliced tomatoes, lettuce, a dollop of mayonnaise and some salt and pepper.

Add some variation to your hamburger recipes thanks to this Tex-Mex cheeseburger video!




Rare, medium or well done Hamburgers?

The USDA recommends that you always cook hamburgers so that the internal temperature reaches 160 degrees which is well done.

A friend from Canada describes why:

“…one thing I’ve learned from working in the food service industry (McDonald’s in Canada, in my case) for over 15 years is that the only safe way to cook hamburgers is to make sure they are fully cooked, not rare. This eliminates the possibility of there being any harmful bacteria in the burger – in particular, E. coli.In fact, it is standard practice at McDonald’s in Canada to verify a safe internal temperature with the first run of the products from the grill, before anything gets served to the customers. In my area, the minimum safe temperature for cooked beef patties is 156 degrees F. It may vary in other locations – in some areas, the safe temperature is 160 degrees, for example.”

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Chicken Parmesan

print recipe card posted in Main Dishes by Kathy Maister

Chicken cutlets are great as is but if you want to turn them into a real feast try making Chicken Parmesan.

Once you have mastered making chicken cutlets, there are just a few extra steps and ingredients needed to make chicken Parmesan.

First, preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Then make the chicken cutlets according to my video. When the chicken is all cooked take it out of the frying pan.

Set the cooked cutlets in a baking dish big enough to lay them flat in a single layer.

Using a spoon put about 1 cup of your favorite spaghetti sauce around the cutlets.   You can make your own spaghetti sauce from scratch or use a jar of spaghetti sauce.  I don’t like to drown the cutlets in sauce. You can always add more later if you want.

Top with 8 ounces of shredded mozzarella cheese.

You can buy pre shredded Mozzarella…

Or fresh Mozzarella and shred it yourself.

Sprinkle 1/4 cup of parmesan on the top.

The Chicken Parmesan is now ready to pop it into a 350 degree preheated oven for about 25 minutes.

When the cheese is all melted and bubbly it’s ready to serve with some spaghetti.



Vegetarians might like to try Eggplant Parmesan instead!




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Guinness Stout Beef Stew

print recipe card posted in Main Dishes by Kathy Maister

Guinness Stout Beef Stew is rich and hearty and a perfect meal to serve on a cold day. Of course, it’s a must for St Patrick’s Day, which here in Boston is a huge celebration!

You can serve this stew for Sunday lunch and then, late in the day, try some of startcooking.com’s Irish Bread with Irish Coffee.

The fresh ingredients you will need to make this stew are garlic, onion, carrots, stew beef and parsley for the garnish (decoration.) Buy the most tender stew beef you can afford. (Ask the butcher!) This stew takes only 1 and 1/2 hours to cook so you need a tender stew beef-“round” stew beef works well for this recipe. (For stews that take 3-4 hours to cook, it’s OK to use a less tender cut of beef, like beef chuck.)

From the pantry, you will need white flour, oil, beef broth and bay leaves.  Remember to remove the bay leaf before serving!

You will also need pitted prunes along with the Guinness Stout.

Before we startcooking, a few words of caution:

First, do not omit the prunes! Without the prunes, the Guinness is going to make the stew taste bitter. The prunes cook down and melt into the stew. If you don’t tell, no one will even be aware that they are in this stew! (Do you see them in the photo below?)

Second, do not replace the “Extra Stout” with “draught” or with those bottles of Guinness with the widgets in them that make the foam. The taste will be all wrong!


Begin by getting the carrots, onions, garlic and beef all cut up and ready to cook.

Peel the carrots and cut them into chunky slices about 1/2 inch thick.

(The picture below shows, from left to right, the stages and equipement I use to turn a whole carrot into the slices.)

Chop the onion.

Crush the garlic.

Cut the stew beef into approximately 1 inch chunks.

In a large, heavy, Dutch oven, set on medium high; heat the oil and sauté (fry) the onions for about 3-4 minutes.

Add the garlic and continue cooking for another 30 seconds.

Remove the onions and garlic from the pot.

The meat needs to get “seared” in small batches. It is very tempting to add half the meat thinking “well that fits into a single layer in the pot…so why not?”

The photo below is why not! If you overcrowd the pan the meat will get foamy and bubbly, and not develop a nice rich browned color.

Small batches….

…will guarantee a nicely browned meat.

Remove the meat from the pan….

…and add the next batch.

When all the meat is browned, add it all back to the pot.

Sprinkle on the flour.

Reduce the heat to simmer, stir in the flour until all the meat is coated

Add beef broth……

…and Guinness (Extra Stout only!)

…and stir everything until mixture comes to a simmer.

Now add the onions, garlic, carrots and the bay leaves. (Be sure to remove the bay leaves before you serve the stew. They are there to impart flavor but you do not eat bay leaves.)

Give everything a stir.

The beer/broth should cover all the ingredients. If it does not, you may need to add a bit more broth.

Simmer the stew gently, uncovered, for one hour. (There should only be tiny little bubbles with the occasional waft of steam coming from the stew.) Be sure to give it an occasional stir.

While the stew is simmering, chop the prunes.

Add the prunes….

…and continue cooking the stew for another 1/2 hour.

The prunes will “melt” into the stew and the gravy will develop a wonderful rich flavor and have a nice glossy finish.

Boiled or mashed potatoes garnished with chopped parsley

are perfect to serve with this stew. Don’t forget to remove the bay leaves!


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