When I was young, we had a lot of family cookouts. If it was warm, the extended family would usually gather around the grill, whether it was for a birthday, graduation, reunion, or just a Sunday afternoon meal. As I remember (noting of course that childhood memories are often suspect), it was my uncle that was usually the bearer of amazing burgers, made with both ground beef (of course) and sausage. The result being a juicy, flavorful grilled delight. Why am I making burgers in February you might ask? The answer is below.
The last two months have brought with them some of the most confused weather that I have ever experienced. In fact, so much so that it now seems almost normal for the weather to go from 30 to 50 to 70 and right back to 30 within a single week. In FEBRUARY! As a result, my menu-planning skills have been all sorts of derailed. I mean, last week I was all set to make a baked pasta dish that I’ve been getting really excited about (and which I promise that I’ll make and share with you eventually), when I walked outside at lunchtime and realized that it was 70 degrees. Baked pasta on a day where I had to take my coat off to go get lunch? No way Jose.
All that I could think about was how much it sucks that in spite of the wonderful temperature, it was still February. Which means that it gets dark way too early for me to prep a dinner and get it cooked on the grill while there was still light outside. But was that going to stop me from making a meal that I usually save for May, when we first hit 70 degrees in a normal year? Heck no. Because I have a George Foreman thanks to Santa. Also known as my mother.
Making these burgers is easy, and a bit nostalgic for me! A point that was hammered home for me when I did research on making good burgers a few years back (thanks Cook’s Illustrated!) is that you should be careful to make the burgers as light and loosely packed as possible. That way they won’t turn out to be as dense as bricks. So don’t over-mix the meats, then form the patties as lightly as possible. Making them on a regular grill or in a pan also helps a little, as the George Foreman lid squashes them a little, but I like that with the Foreman the grease can drip out, like it would on a regular grill. Important since there is sausage in there.
So, the ingredients. Roughly one pound of beef, half a pound of mild sausage (not sage flavored), paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, and salt and pepper.
Start by placing half a pound (half of the package pictured above) of sausage into a large bowl. Break it into smaller pieces with a wooden spoon. Doing this before adding the beef will help to keep the mixture lighter, so that it won’t become dense as mentioned above. Then add the beef and start to mix the two meats together.
When you have mixed the two meats most of the way together, add the spices and lightly mix all of the pieces together until you can’t see large patches of spice anymore.
Now you will create the patties. The only good way to do this without smashing everything together too much is with your hands, so hopefully you’re prepared to get a little bit messy. This recipe yielded 8 small burgers for us, if you want to make quarter pound burgers split the meat into 6 equal patties. Stack them on wax paper to keep them from sticking together until you are ready to cook them. (Like in the first picture above.) I’ve heard that if you use your thumb to make a small indentation in the middle of the patty, the burgers won’t puff up when they cook, but forgot to try it. If you try it let me know whether it works or not!
Now it’s time to cook the burgers! I used a George Foreman, and it took roughly 4-5 minutes per burger. If you are cooking on the stove top it will probably take 2-3 minutes per side, depending on how well you like your burgers cooked.
When your burgers are done, you can top them with all of your favorite toppings. We did bacon, avocado slices, tomato and lettuce. And served them with crispy sweet potato fries. Oh my goodness, so yummy. Bleu cheese, bacon and caramelized onions are lovely. Barbecue sauce is also good on these flavorful burgers! Go crazy, get creative! At this rate grilling season will be in full swing by the end of March. And I won’t complain, not even a little. Enjoy!
Bonus side note: These burger patties freeze really well. I just wrap each patty in aluminum foil or parchment paper (so I can thaw them out individually if necessary), then put all of the extras into a freezer bag. Then they’re ready for an evening when you need a quick meal.
Flavorful Beef and Sausage Hamburgers
1 pound (roughly) lean ground chuck
1/2 pound mild sausage (not sage) (1/2 a package)
2 teaspoons paprika (or smoked paprika for a bold flavor)
3/4 teaspoon garlic powder
3/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
Toppings of your choice- buns, cheese, bacon, avocado, tomato, lettuce, onions, pickles, relish, mustard, ketchup, etc.
1. In large bowl, use a wooden spoon to break up the half pound of sausage into smaller pieces, then add ground beef and mix the two meats together.
2. When nearly mixed together, add in the spices. Lightly mix them in until you can no longer spot big patches of seasoning. Could even just toss the mixture with spoon or hands at this point.
3. Form patties, keeping them loose so that they don’t become dense. Mixture will make 6 quarter pound burger patties.
4. Cook burgers on grill (2-4 minutes per side) or George Foreman (4-5 minutes total). If cooking in pan, add oil to the pan first and let it heat up. Flip burgers after they have cooked 2-4 minutes on the first side (they should no longer stick to pan when they are done). Cook another 2-3 minutes on second side.*
*Discard grease between batches if necessary.