All Hail the Almighty Burger: Everyone loves a good burger, not only is it the most American of all foods, when done properly it is one of the most delicious foods you will ever eat. Widely available in every shape, size, and price range imaginable, it is the most versatile of all of the grilled meats. You can make the humble hamburger into a gourmet meal in a few easy steps.
It’s all about the meat: Remember when selecting ground beef, in most cases you do get what you pay for. Hamburger can be made from almost any cut of meat as long as it has the proper percentage of fat in it. One time I made burgers from Rib Eye, while they were excellent burgers they still tasted like burgers. So we do not suggest wasting your money on high-end beef for burger making, when a good ground chuck will turn out just as well. Here is an entire article on this subject.
A word on Turkey burgers: Yuck! No seriously, we are well aware that everyone is trying to eat healthier these days. While turkey burgers are a healthier hamburger alternative, however they lack some serious flavor. All the techniques listed will work with turkey as well, and may we also suggest a 50/50 turkey to ground beef mixture for added flavor.
Mixing your meat: When prepping Hamburgers you may add just about anything into the meat before forming your patties, in limited quantities of course. For spices we suggest a pinch per pound, liquids a tablespoon per pound of meat.
Here are a few basic mixing suggestions to get you started: Salt, Pepper, Red Pepper, Chili Powder, Chopped Onions, Barbecue Sauce, Ketchup, Mustard and Salsa. You are only limited by your imagination and you kitchen cabinets, mix and match to taste. We almost always add a liquid to our meat it makes for extra juicy hamburgers. Then shape the meat into patties, packing them firmly between your hands. We like to form different sized patties for different sized appetites.
Grilling your Burgers: The best way to Grill your hamburger creation is to sear both sides then move it off of or away from the heat to cook the inside to taste. Cooking times will vary by patty size and your grill temperature. Cheap meat will shrink quickly (this is the fat burning off) when cooked. The rule of thumb for burgers is that they are done when the juices run clear, however when you season your meat with the above techniques they may never run clear. The only true way to tell if a burger is fully cooked is with a meat thermometer.
Cheese Please: Cheeseburgers are a way of life; simply place a slice of cheese (or sprinkle shredded) on the top of the patty before it is removed from the grill. Many types of cheeses go well on burgers; kids seem to prefer American, while more adult tastes may prefer Swiss or a Sharp Cheddar. A lot will depend on the type of toppings you plan on offering when you serve your hamburgers. Ex. Try a Swiss Cheeseburger with grilled mushrooms and onions.
A word on Buns: Take a little time and effort to toast your buns; it’s definitely worth it. First melt some butter on your side-burner or in your microwave (Olive oil will work here as well), then brush the buns with butter, place buns directly on the grill grates for about 2 minutes, turn and remove after another 2 minutes.
Toppings: While we are firm believers that a great burger requires nothing but a bun, there are not many who subscribe to our theory. Basic burger toppings that should be made available for guests are: Lettuce, Tomato (thinly sliced), Onions (thinly sliced), and Pickles.
Basic Condiments include: Ketchup, Mustard Yellow, Mustard Brown (Stadium Brand preferably), Mayonnaise, and Relish. If you are willing to go one step above the basics to create a Burger bar here are a few more suggestions: Grilled Bacon, Grilled Onions, Hot Pepper Rings, Onion Rings, Chili and Grilled Mushrooms.
About the author: Mike is the owner of 4thegrill.com, a Certified Food Safety Professional and KCBS member. I would also like to eat hamburgers for a living. I just can’t find anyone who will pay me for it.
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