There are really only two things you need to know. Leave it the fuck alone, and do it in a cast iron pan. Even though you are now learned, watch this delicious video from the New York Times.
Some other tips from the wonderful article they published today.
First off, why the skillet?
“The beef fat collected in a hot skillet, [George Motz of Hamburger America] said, acts both as a cooking and a flavoring agent. “Grease is a condiment that is as natural as the beef itself,” he said. “A great burger should be like a baked potato, or sashimi. It should taste completely of itself.”
“Most of the time, 7 ounces is more than enough,” said Geoffrey Zakarian, the chef and owner of the National Bar and Dining Rooms, in Manhattan, which serves a fine hamburger of roughly that size. Mr. Zakarian cautioned against hamburgers of more than a half-pound in weight.
Stay fat, though.
Pay close attention to the cuts of beef used in the grind. The traditional hamburger is made of ground chuck steak, rich in both fat and flavor, in a ratio that ideally runs about 80 percent meat, 20 percent fat. Less fat leads to a drier hamburger. Avoid, the experts say, supermarket blends advertised with words like “lean.”
And play it cool.
Whatever the blend, it is wise to keep the meat in the refrigerator, untouched, until you are ready to cook. “Hamburgers are one of the few meats you want to cook cold,” [Chef Michael] Symon said. “You want the fat solid when the patty goes onto the skillet. You don’t want any smearing.”
As for toppings, keep it simple.
“Finally, there are condiments. You pull your burgers off the skillet, place them on the buns and then offer them to guests to dress. Ripe tomatoes and cold lettuce should be offered (“Only bibb lettuce,” Mr. Zakarian said, “for its crispness and ability to hold the juices of the meat”) along with ketchup, mustard and, for a hardy few, mayonnaise or mayonnaise mixtures. Onions excite some. Pickles, others.”
There you go.