Wining & Dining
National Hamburger Month
5/3/2018 8:53:43 PM
Hamburger Month

With summer just one month away, outdoor chefs across the country are uncovering their grills and prepping them for tasty barbeque goodness, especially the all-American hamburger.

But how do you grill a burger that will make you the talk of the neighborhood? Chefs say it’s all about the beef you choose, how you prepare it, and the way you cook your patties on the grates.

For starters, the old culinary aphorism "fat equals flavor” is paramount to great burger grilling. Begin with beef that has a high fat content; at least 15 percent fat, 20 percent being optimum. The higher the fat content, the juicier and more flavorful the burger will be. The trade off, however, is that beef with higher fat content tends to shrink more on the grill, so you want to start with large patties. 

If you want to take your burger to the next level, add some pork and/or lamb to the beef and mix in a large bowl. While high-fat beef typically makes for a tasty burger, mixing pork or lamb into your patties will add flavor you’ll never forget.

Once the meat is mixed thoroughly, add your seasoning. You can add just about anything to this mixture to add flavor but avoid salt. Adding salt to raw meat will extract moisture and your patty will begin to dry out before it ever hits the grates. More commonly used seasonings for burger meat include dehydrated or freshly minced onion and garlic, seasoning mixes for soups or salads, and cheeses such as bleu cheese, goat cheese, gorgonzola, feta, Stilton, cheddar, or pepper jack. 

If you’re looking for a bolder flavor in your burgers, try adding a sauce to your raw meat. Veteran pit masters are known for adding barbeque sauce, soy sauce, hoisin sauce, Worcestershire sauce, salsa, plum sauce, even oyster sauce to their burger meat before grilling.

With your burger mixture fully prepped, place the bowl in the refrigerator for several hours. The cool environment will allow the different meats and seasonings to mix and mingle, bringing all the flavors to a peak before grilling.

Next, it’s time to form the meat into patties. As mentioned earlier, patties formed with meat that contains at least 15 percent fat will shrink on the grill. To avoid this, form patties on the large side, at least three to four inches in diameter. To keep your patties from cooking too quickly and drying out, form them to about three-quarters of an inch in thickness. To prevent the patties from swelling on the grill, make a small indentation in the middle of each one.

Now you can add salt. Sprinkle a small amount over the patties and bring them to the grill.

Preheat the grill to about 500 degrees so it will be easier for you to clean your grates prior to cooking. Once the grates are clean, grab a paper towel with a pair of tongs, dip it into a cooking oil like canola oil, and lube the grates. When finished, close the lid, and preheat the grill to about 350 degrees. 

Once the grill is preheated, place the patties on the grates, keeping an adequate distance between them that will make it easy for you to flip them. You should hear that wonderful sizzling sound the moment the meat hits the grill. If you don’t hear anything, your grill isn’t hot enough.

Although it may be tempting to flip your burgers several times while cooking, don’t do it. Be patient and watch your burgers closely as they cook. When you begin to see the juices rise to the top, flip each patty and cook the other side. Whatever you do, don’t mash the burgers with your spatula. Mashing releases all of the juices (and thereby the flavor) of each burger.

Once your patties have reached an internal temperature of about 160 degrees, remove them from the grill, place them on the buns, and add your favorite toppings. Be careful not to add too many toppings. You don’t want your burger’s flavor to be masked by adding additional strong flavors. Let the burger’s smoky, juicy, well-seasoned flavor be the star of show.

Follow these simple rules and your burgers will be brought to a whole new level this summer. And remember, no mashing.

Grilling Tips Takeaway
  • Start with high-fat content beef 
  • Season well and properly prep patties 
  • Grill on medium heat 
  • Flip only once 
  • Keep toppings to a minimum.
Posted by: Frank DiCesare | Submit comment | Tell a friend

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