I think I've said, OK, I know I've said that I do it all, I'm by way of being a one man band or something like that in the kitchen.
Not a complete control freak, but close.
So, when I do one of these Burger Bars, I make lists.
Guest list, gotta know how many you're feeding, it really sucks to run out of burgers. At least I think it would, I've never done it yet.
I check what I have in the fridge and pantry first. I usually have more than enough ketchup, yellow mustard and mayonnaise on hand anyway, but don't always have brown mustard or BBQ sauce. And then there are the people who like Miracle Whip on their burgers, and I usually have that on hand as well. I like it on various things as well so...
If I don't have dill pickles in the fridge, I will have them in the pantry. I buy them when they go on sale, cause I like to save money. And I do like to give a choice to people, so I'll put out some Bread and Butter Pickles as well. I've even put out some pickled beets for those who have a taste for it. (Aussies and Kiwi's take note).
A grocery list, now that you know how many people are coming and just what you need to buy. And if you can do this far enough ahead, you can take advantage of sales on a lot of it, and just stock up. In other words, spread out the spending over a couple of weeks or even months. Let's face it, condiments can last a long time in the pantry.
The day before, or even that day, buy your meat and make the patties. Fresh is best on this.
For the meat, 15 lbs. of hamburger meat will get you 40 hamburger patties. 12 pounds of meat, 32 patties. 6 lbs gets you 16 patties.
See, I did the math for you.
I like to do a 50/50 ratio of ground chuck and ground round. Ground Chuck can get real greasy all by itself and ground round can be too dry, I like them mixed together. And, please, please, please don't smoosh it all together. You can break up the meat, gently, and layer it together in a large bowl and then form the patties, with a light hand. I don't season the meat, but that's your call. If I have the time and fridge space, I like making the patties early on the day, and then I place them on cookie sheets in single layers. If I'm working with a lot of meat, I divide it up into 3 or 4 batches, keeping the rest of the ground meat in the fridge. Don't let ground meat get warm, it likes the colder temperatures. And you're less like to give someone food poisoning.
If I can, I like to buy my buns fresh, the day of the party. Mainly cause I just hate stale buns. But the day before is OK. I used to order them from a local grocery store, when I lived closer to one that carried the kind of buns I like.
Do a timeline list, personally I need one, because I can then gauge what needs to be done next and how long it takes. I apportion a certain amount of time for each action. Give myself an hour to form the meat patties for example, how long does it take to cut the tomatoes for the burgers.
For example; I'm planning on starting the BBQ at 5 pm and I don't want to be running around trying to figure out what to do next. So I write it down.
8: Cook Bacon for Burgers put in an oven safe container and refrigerate
9 : Prep and Saute Mushrooms
9:30 :Cut the cheese and arrange on platter.
10 : Prep and Saute Onions
11: Make meat patties, refrigerate
12 noon cut fresh onions, refrigerate
1: shred lettuce/ cut tomatoes
2 : set up tables, get chairs together Figure out what serving dishes you're using, set them out.
3: Shower and Nap This is very important, give yourself time to take a breath, lay down for a minute, meditate, shower, dress and get your makeup on.
4: Set up plates, cutlery and napkins
4:30 : set out the ice, if you have an ice chest, I like to give my guests a place to stash the drinks they brought. I also like to put out lots of bottled water and some soda. But that is up to you.
4:45 : Set out condiments
5:00 : Greet guests
if you are grilling right at 5 pm bring out the burger toppings as your guests are arriving. Enlist their help if you like. If you have a spot on the BBQ grill for the bacon, onions and mushrooms to warm up, get them out and set that up. Or just warm them in the oven.
|Clockwise from the pretzel bun, lettuce, tomato, pastrami, grilled onions, mushrooms, dill pickle and sliced Vidalia onion.|
Then relax, enjoy your guests, grill the burgers and most important of all, have fun.