Independence Day, which falls next week, will once again provide an opportunity to dispel the rumor that only men know how to make a good hamburger. Be that as it may, before getting down to the business of firing up the holiday grill, one must bear in mind that a hamburger is not a patty, but rather a good steak - albeit chopped, but a juicy one, dripping with flavor. That is the whole story in a nutshell. Aside from this not much more is required: quick grilling, a fresh bun, good-quality ketchup, and the rest is already a matter of taste.

There are as many versions of a good hamburger as there are stars in the sky, but all of them have one common denominator: beef with proper texture. So, there are two things to watch out for - the type of beef and the way it is chopped.

The recommended meat to use for hamburgers is fresh, not aged beef. This is because the process of aging beef is designed to tenderize it, whereas in hamburgers the beef is already chopped, so there is no need for tenderizing.

The recommended cut of beef varies and depends on the personal taste of the carnivore in question, but if it doesn't contain at least 25-percent fat, the burgers will come out bland and dry. The recommended cuts are sirloin, fillet (to which we add fat during the grinding ), prime rib and rib eye. You can combine two kinds of beef, if you like. If you wish to cut costs, you can even combine in equal proportion beef neck or short ribs with a high-quality cut.

The finest chopping is done in a manual meat grinder, but an electric one will also yield a worthy result. It is important to do a rough grind - and only one. Those willing to go the extra mile will even consider chopping the beef finely with a knife. When grinding, it is important to make sure that the cuts are clean of tendons, connective tissue and bits of rubbery fat, and they should also be as cold as possible to prevent mushiness. Once ground, the beef should be kneaded briefly but thoroughly, a process that binds the bits into a homogenous consistency.

Our burgers will be perfectly round if we use a baking ring; if possible, it should have the same diameter as the bun. One must gently press the beef into the ring.

Best results come from grilling hamburgers on a coal or gas grill. The coals should be very hot but without visible flames. If you do not have a grill, use a frying pan greased with a little oil, or a hot and lightly greased griddle pan; cook the burgers over a high fire but not the highest.

It is important to create, on the one hand, a crispy brown coating and, on the other hand, to ensure that the inside of the burger remains juicy and pink. Grilling time changes depending on the type of frying pan and size of the fire. On average, grilling a 250-gram hamburger to medium-rare takes 5-7 minutes. The only seasoning you need is salt and pepper, which you add only during grilling. Any additional seasoning will turn them into kebabs.

For my part, I am convinced that a dripping bite of a juicy burger, wrapped in a plump and airy bun, with crispy fries on the side and a glass of bitter beer, constitutes a pleasure that is reserved for those who understand that good food is simple food.

Hamburgers

Makes four servings
1/2 kilo rib-eye steak (“entrecote” in Hebrew), coarsely ground
1/2 kilo beef fillet, coarsely ground dash of salt and finely ground black pepper
4 soft buns iceberg lettuce or hearts of Romaine lettuce
4 thick tomato slices
4 onion rings, red or white sliced sour pickles
Ketchup

Heat a lightly greased griddle pan or fire up the outdoor grill. Mix the beef in a bowl; briefly knead and divide into four equal parts. Form thick round patties. Grill for 5 minutes on one side. Season with salt and pepper. Flip over and grill for an additional minute or two. Place on a fresh bun (which can be warmed up on the grill) with lettuce, tomato, onion and pickle. Drizzle some ketchup over it and eat immediately.

Beet & avocado guacamole

This deep-purple guacamole is sweet and spicy, and goes great with a hamburger in a fresh bun and tangy mustard.

2 medium beets, washed
1 teaspoon chipotle or jalapeno pepper, chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 ripe avocado, mashed with a fork and a few drops of lemon

Place the beets in a pot with 1/2 cup of water, cover and cook over medium heat until softened. Turn off the heat and let the beets cool in the covered pot. Peel them by hand under running water (the peel should come off easily), trim the root and stem, and grate coarsely. Combine with the rest of the ingredients.

Sweet hot-pepper chutney

This sweet and spicy dip should be placed on top of the burger, inside the bun. The amount of chili pepper in it depends on your personal taste and the possibility of imbibing a big glass of cold beer on the side.

6 red peppers, roasted and peeled, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 garlic cloves
1/2 or more of a hot red pepper, chopped
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

Heat the oil in a small pan. Add the garlic, the hot pepper and the sugar and saute for a minute. Add the red peppers, salt and black pepper and cook for two minutes. Add the vinegar and turn off the heat. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.

Place the beets in a pot with 1/2 cup of water, cover and cook over medium heat until softened. Turn off the heat and let the beets cool in the covered pot. Peel them by hand under running water ‏(the peel should come off easily‏), trim the root and stem, and grate coarsely. Combine with the rest of the ingredients.

Homemade ketchup

Here is a recipe for ketchup that will give the industrial-tasting variety we have grown accustomed to a run for its money. Even children addicted to store-bought brands will switch to this homemade one − without pangs of withdrawal.

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, chopped
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon soy sauce
Pinch of ground allspice
Pinch of ground nutmeg
Pinch of ground cinnamon
1 1/2 cups tomato puree made in Italy (passata)
1 tablespoon tomato paste

Heat the oil in a pot and saute the onion until translucent. Add garlic and salt and cook for two minutes. Add the rest of the ingredients; bring to a gentle boil and then cook over a medium heat for about 15 minutes, until reaching the desired consistency. Stir from time to time. Cool and store in a sterilized bottle.