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Lidia Bastianich's Secret Weapon For the Ultimate Juicy Burger

Dec 8, 2021

One of the most disappointing foods one can be served is a dry burger. PBS celebrity chef Lidia Bastianich recently revealed in her latest cookbook Lidia’s A Pot, A Pan, and a Bowl her trick for ensuring a juicy hamburger on your plate every time you make one. Here’s the tip that makes so much sense.

What you’ll need to make Bastianich’s Mozzarella Cheeseburgers

To make the chef’s Cheeseburgers con Mozzarella, you’ll need one and a half pounds of ground beef (she suggests 80/20 fat content), one-half of an onion, two teaspoons of dried oregano, salt, pepper, two tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil, focaccia buns, tomato slices, sliced mozzarella cheese, and sliced pickled peperoncini.

“Everybody loves hamburgers,” Bastianich says on her YouTube channel video (below) about the classic dish. “Whether you’re Italian or American. On my table, hamburgers are always welcome.”

Lidia Bastianich’s grater helps her avoid dry burgers

Bastianich has been cooking professionally for decades. In addition to her PBS cooking shows, the renowned Italian-American chef has written countless cookbooks and helmed numerous restaurants. Clearly, she knows her way around a kitchen.

In her new cookbook, she revealed what she has found it takes to make burgers dependably juicy.

“Everybody loves a good burger, and I am no different, but here I bring the hamburger a bit closer to Italy,” she writes of her Mozzarella Cheeseburgers with tips on serving. “Warming the tomatoes for a minute or two brings out their juices and eliminates the need for condiments.”

She’s found her burgers turn out their most flavorful and moist by using a humble kitchen grater.

“I like grating vegetables, like the onion in this recipe, into my burger mixture — it adds flavor and moisture. Try this with beef burgers, as I do here, but it’s an even better tip for turkey or chicken burgers, which tend to be dry.”

How to put her burgers together

To make Bastianich’s burgers, mix the ground meat, onion, and oregano in a bowl. The chef notes it’s important to “season with one teaspoon salt and several grinds of black pepper.” Shape the mixture into “four patties about one-inch thick.”

For this recipe, she uses a large cast-iron skillet; but use whatever kind of pan or skillet you have on hand. Ready it with nonstick cooking spray (unless you’re using a nonstick pan, of course).

Bastianich first toasts the buns, “cut sides down,” on the pan, followed by the tomato slices, about one minute on each side. Finally, the patties are placed in the skillet and fried until “they’re charred on the bottom, about four minutes.” At that point, it’s safe to flip the burgers and continue cooking them to your preferred doneness.

Move the skillet off the burner. Place the sliced mozzarella cheese on the finished burgers and cover the pan until the cheese is melted. Now, move the patties to the waiting buns and top with the cooked tomatoes and sliced pepperoncini (if you’re using them) for an unforgettably juicy burger.

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