My Favorite Burger

Makes 4 servings
Time: 20 minutes

A burger needs good, not-too-lean meat, gentle handling, and quick cooking. Other cuts and meats you can use: fatty pork shoulder; skinned and boned chicken, turkey, or duck thighs; boneless lamb shoulder (all but the lamb will require a few more minutes of cooking time per side to cook all the way through).

1 1/2 to 2 pounds not-too-lean sirloin or chuck, cut into 1-inch chunks, or preground meat
1/2 white onion, peeled and cut into chunks (optional)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1. Heat a charcoal or gas grill or the broiler until hot-you should barely be able to hold your hand 3 or 4 inches over the rack-and put the rack 3 to 4 inches from the heat source. (If you're cooking on a stovetop, when you're ready to start, heat a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat for 3 or 4 minutes; sprinkle it with coarse salt.)

2. Put the meat and onion into a food processor (in batches if your machine is small) and pulse until coarsely ground-finer than chopped, but not much. (If you're starting with preground meat, mince the onion if you're using it and incorporate it into the meat.) Put it in a bowl and sprinkle with salt and pepper, then taste and adjust the seasoning (if you don't want to taste it raw, cook up a spoonful in a small skillet). Handling the meat as little as possible to avoid compressing it, shape it lightly into 4 or more burgers.

3. Grill the burgers, about 3 minutes per side for very rare and another minute per side for each increasing stage of doneness, but no more than 10 minutes total unless you like hockey pucks. (Timing on the stovetop in a pan over medium-high heat is exactly the same; the broiler may vary a bit depending on your oven.)

4. Serve on buns, toast, or hard rolls, garnished as you like.

Cheese-Stuffed Burgers.

Especially good with smoked mozzarella or cheddar; try these burgers with ground lamb. Omit the onion. Cut 4 ounces of any melting cheese into 4 pieces and form the meat into patties around each one; sprinkle with salt and pepper and proceed with the recipe.