Mark rober, a former nasa engineer who hosts his own science and creativity channel on youtube, reveals the mathematics of the perfect patty.

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Mark rober, a former nasa engineer who hosts his own science and creativity channel on youtube, reveals the mathematics of the perfect patty.

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It’s your classic barbecue conundrum: You fire up the grill, intending to sear some epic burgers. But somehow those patties end up torched.
In your effort to avoid serving raw meat to your guests, you err on the side of too-well-done grub.

We’ve cooked up a solution. Use this equation: For every 6mm of burger thickness, you need 3 minutes on the grill. (For on-the-fly estimates, use the side of a beer bottle cap – this is around 6mm high.) Therefore, the quick rule is: Sizzle time for an average patty (25mm) is around 14 minutes.
Cooking times will be the same whether you’re using gas or charcoal: Burgers are flat disks, so they’ll always char evenly, at the same rate.
While timing is important, the right temperature is also key to patty perfection. First, light the grill and let it warm up. Then hold your hand around 8cm above the grate. If you can keep it there for only two to four seconds, you’ve hit the right medium-high range of warmth.
Now slap on your burgers and leave them there. Flip only once, halfway through the cooking time, so each side browns about the same. This works for both traditionally fatty and leaner grinds of beef. If you want a cheeseburger, place your slices atop the patties about two minutes before you’re done to achieve melty awesomeness.
Note: For food-safety reasons, we recommend that your meat be cooked medium-well, or slightly firm and pinkish. That will ensure that your burger reaches 71 deg C throughout – the point at which harmful bacteria like E. coli burn up. Now you’ve got a taste for great science!

Exotic stack-on ingredients for a chart-topping burger.

Lettuce, tomato and onion are (yawn) fine, but exotic toppings add flair that your guests will savour long after they’ve had seconds. Try these finishing touches from Richard Blais, author of the geeky cookbook Try This at Home and host of Food Network’s culinary adventure show Hungry Games. You’ll elevate your burger and earn props as a grilling great.

with stinky fish: Intense, briny anchovies (ikan bilis) carry the rich umami of seared beef. Stir a pea-sized dab of anchovy paste into a small bowl of ketchup and slather up the bun.

with a preserved vegetable: Instead of classic pickles, try thick slices of pickled beets on a bacon cheeseburger. Their sweet earthiness will offset the salty beef and bacon.

with a crazy condiment: Create an extra-hot spread by mixing Old Bay (a spicy seasoning powder usually used in seafood) into mayo. Season to taste. – PAUL KITA