Everyone loves burgers! Well, almost everyone. And if you don’t, you’ll wish you did when you get to the end of this post. While going vegan would be easy for us on most days, we’re sure we’d cave immediately when a big, juicy cheese burger hot off the grill comes into focus. There is nothing better than a perfectly cooked burger, especially in the summer, when the weather allows for plenty of time spent grilling outdoors. Whether you prefer gas, charcoal, or a campfire, the secrets to making a top-notch burger are simple and apply to all types of fire.
First, select high-quality ground beef (or lamb, turkey, or even fish if you prefer). When choosing ground chuck or sirloin, look for a mix ratio of 85 percent lean to 15 percent fat. This seems to be the best to produce a burger that has the perfect balance of juiciness, flavor and texture. Don’t handle the beef too much – treat it like you would pastry, the less handling, the better. Overworking the ground beef will break down the fat and meld it into the meat, making for a denser mix that won’t cook up as tender. As far as shaping the patty, we find that making a burger too thick is not a great idea. Generally, the edges and outsides of the patty will be crusty and overdone before the inside is heated through. So, as tempting as it might be to make those giant burgers, try to keep them at ¾ inch to 1 inch thickness and about 5-6 ounces each. This way the burgers will be good sized, satisfying and still cook thoroughly with no exterior toughness. In addition, there is no guilt from over indulging, and it is much easier to layer on those toppings that we love!
One more tip to pass along… we always use our thumb or spoon to indent the meat in the center of the patty before grilling. This does a couple of things. It allows for more even cooking and prevents the “puffed up” center in a burger, which makes toppings spill out the side of the bun and can leave you with a raw center. Using this trick also makes the burger virtually flat and ready to top with bacon, cheese, onions, lettuce, tomato, pickles and so on.
Cook hamburgers over a medium-hot fire. Too much heat and the burgers will cook too fast and be charred but not juicy and flavorful on the inside. Resist the urge to turn them too often (3 to 5 minutes on each side and they should be done), and whatever you do, don’t press the juices out of them with your spatula. Never, ever cut the burgers open while still on the grill to see if they are done; this lets all those wonderful juices go right into the fire. Instead, get used to pressing lightly in the middle. You will soon learn the “spring back” feel that tells you the patties are done just the way you like them.
To change up your usual burger patties, try serving sliders the next time you have a cook out. These two-bite treats are great for appetizers, kids, a “design-your-own-burger” party or a late night snack! Just make the burgers in 2-inch circles, adjust cooking time and serve with lots of toppings. The only drawback to making sliders is that finding the right sized rolls can be tough. We usually make ours from pre-made, store bought dough. You can use a cookie cutter to shape rolls however you please, and you’ll have the perfect sized roll for your slider. Best part of making your own? You can customize your bun AND your burger.
Now, go start the grill… and if you need to stock up on burger toppings, check out our vast array of aiolis, mustards, ketchups and relishes. This month, you can save an extra 10% on our Products of the Month: Country Ketchup, Farmhouse Ketchup, Barbecue Ketchup and Chipotle Ketchup. Why choose one when you can have them all?!