A hamburger without a bun is a bit like a sandwich without any bread -- it looks a bit lonely. It's possible to eat a burger fit between large lettuce leaves or Portobello mushrooms, and you can also just toss the burger onto the plate and pretend you’re having the ultimate hamburger experience, minus the carbs. There are times, though, when tradition is the way to roll and nestling your perfectly cooked burger between two warm yeasty buns is the only thing that will satisfy a hamburger purist's cravings. You can get creative on how you prepare the buns and add your own signature touch to your homecooked burger.
Fill the bottom pot of a double boiler with about 1 inch of water and fit the steamer insert into the pot.
Bring the water to a rapid boil.
Separate the buns and place them inside the steamer. Depending on the size of your pot, steam only 3 to 4 at a time to ensure that each bun is evenly warmed.
Fit the lid to the pot and steam the buns for 20 to 30 seconds. If you leave the buns in the steamer too long, they will become soggy and inedible.
Pull on an oven mitt and remove the buns gently with tongs, ensuring you don’t tear the bread.
Dampen a clean kitchen towel lightly in tap water. You don’t want to saturate the towel with water as much as you want to provide just a bit of moisture to steam the bread.
Arrange two to three buns in the center of the towel and fold the edges up over the sides and tops of the buns.
Place the towel-covered buns in the microwave and cook for about 10 to 20 seconds on full power or until the buns are soft and warm. Depending on the wattage of your microwave, you may need to cook them longer, but heat them in 5-second increments so they don't harden. If the buns are frozen, you may need to steam them in the microwave for up to 30 seconds.
Oven or Toaster Oven
Adjust the top rack of your oven or toaster oven so that it is about 6 inches away from the heating element.
Preheat the oven to broil, and cover a cookie sheet with a piece of aluminum foil as the oven heats.
Separate the buns and place them face up on the cookie sheet.
Pull on an oven mitt and slide the pan carefully into the oven.
Toast the buns for 30 seconds to 1 minute, or until they reach the desired level of toasting. A toasted bun is ideal for hamburgers that have a lot of condiments so the bread doesn’t become as easily saturated as a steamed bun.
Fill a small spray bottle about one-quarter full of water. Ensure that you use a bottle reserved only for water and not one that has been used for cleaning. You don’t want your hamburger to have a hint of ammonia or lavender-scented cleaner.
Mist the outside of the hamburger buns with one spray per bun so they don’t become too damp.
Line three to four buns in the center of a large piece of aluminum foil and loosely fold the sides up around the buns and seal, leaving plenty of air inside the foil tent for the steam to build. If you are cooking for a crowd, you’ll need enough pieces of foil to accommodate the appropriate number of buns.
Place the buns on the back of the grill over indirect heat, or on a top rack if your grill includes a second rack. Allow the steam to build as you grill your burgers.
Pull on an oven mitt and remove the foil packages when your burgers are fully cooked.
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- When steaming the buns, open the lid or foil away from your face so you don’t risk getting burned.
- When you’re going for broke in the calorie department, spread lowfat butter or extra virgin olive oil on the inside of the bun before toasting. You can also use a butter substitute, but it won’t melt as evenly.
- You can lightly toast the buns on the grill by placing them directly on the grate facing the heat. Toast them for about 1 minute and watch them closely so they don’t become charred.
Kristie Brown is a publisher, writer and editor. She has contributed to magazines, textbooks and online publications. Brown holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Texas at Austin.