While I highly recommend doing experiments in your own grill, I think the science being this research is reliable and interesting.
The skinny: Flip often and you’ll get a better burger in less time. Who can argue with that?
Clockwise from top left: Autopsy of a well-cooked burger, evenness of cooking vs. # of flips, proper flipping technique.
A friend—who for some odd reason trusts my musical advice, or at least pretends to—asked me a question about the great Who number “Pinball Wizard” the other day, and as always happens when I think about that song, the best line got stuck in my head for a good three days. There’s something about the image of a kid who’s “got crazy flipping fingers” that’s just funny to me.
All this has nothing to do with burgers, other than the “crazy flipping” part. I posed a simple question on my Facebook page the other day: When cooking a burger, how many times do you flip it?
As you can imagine, the responses fell overwhelmingly into the “single flip” camp. It seems that so-called “nervous flipper”—you know, the backyard griller who, like a chimp at the Bronx Zoo, can’t seem to leave his meat alone—have a bad rap in the food world. Some commenters even went so far as to resort to ALL CAPS: “How can you even ask this question? ONE FLIP!”
Well, I’ve always been of the mind that if an answer exists—and clearly, there is an answer to this—then the question is worth asking. Fortunately, this question is one that’s fairly straightforward to test.
Those on the “one flip” side (22 out of every 23 people, according to my Facebook data), claim “more even cooking,” and “better flavor development,” as the selling points of the method. Curiously, the few people on the “multiple flips” side (which, incidentally, has some heavy-hitting supporters including Harold McGee himself) claim the exact same benefits from multiple flips, adding in “shortened cooking time” to the mix.
So who’s right? Continue reading