Kemp's Kitchen: The Hamburger Helper

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If, however, you plan on basting your burger from the very beginning with a sauce or some spare marinade, stop basting three to four minutes before the hamburger is done and make sure you turn the burger over at least once or twice more before removing the meat from the grill. That way, you’ll destroy any bacteria that may have gotten onto your mop brush or into your sauce or marinade when the burger was raw.


According to the Institute of Food Technologists, the bacteria on whole pieces of meat such as steaks—those that have not been cut into, mechanically tenderized, or injected with anything—are on the outside surfaces. When you grill a steak, you promptly kill the bacteria on the outside. But if you take that same raw steak and grind it for burgers, any harmful bacteria or pathogens on the exterior will be spread throughout the meat. If the grinder itself isn’t clean, that’s another source of potential trouble. That’s why you need to cook your burger to 160°F.


There’s a growing movement to grind your own meat for burgers. Many bloggers consider it a possible path to that medium–rare burger they crave. The thinking is: If they buy the meat from a rancher or farmer they trust and they know the small–scale processor, do–it–yourselfers feel the risks are reduced to a reasonable level. There are too many variables for the USDA to give home grinding its blessing, however. “E. coli can be anywhere,” counsels Diane Van, manager of the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline. It’s up to you to figure out what risks you are willing to take.

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