How To Make Well-Done Burgers That Don't Taste Like Hockey Pucks

Make this paste your secret trick to juicy well-done burgers.

Most burger snobs agree: well-done burgers are a no-no.

But not everybody likes a medium-rare burger, and let's face it -- with all the beer drinking, Frisbee-throwing and toddler-chasing at barbecues, most home-grilled burgers end up on the well-cooked side, anyway.

Luckily, there's a handy trick from the editors of America's Test Kitchen that will prevent your overcooked burgers from tasting (and looking) like hockey pucks.

In their new book, "Master of the Grill," the ATK chefs present a whopper of a big hack: Use panade. "Our quest for a juicy well-done burger ended when we hit upon a surprisingly effective addition -- a panade," they write.

What is panade, you say? The ATK chefs have the answer:

"[It's] a mixture of a starch and liquid. It can be simple (bread and milk) or it can be complex (panko or saltines, buttermilk or yogurt, or even gelatin). But it always has the same goal: to keep ground meat moist and tender. Panades aren't just limited to burgers -- they're used in meatloaf and meatballs too. How does a panade work? Starches from the bread absorb liquid from the milk to form a gel that coats and lubricates the protein molecules in the meat, much in the same way as fat, keeping them moist and preventing them from linking together and shrinking into a tough matrix."

Combine the panade trick with the right choice of ground beef ("taste tests proved that well-done burgers made with 80 percent lean chuck were noticeably moister than burgers made from leaner beef," they write) and your burgers will fly off the grill. Just be sure you don't add too much panade, or you'll end up with something more like a meatloaf than a burger.

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