Like Wimpy in the Popeye cartoons, I could eat a hamburger every day! The blend of fresh grind, a roll, tomato, cheese, and mayo just make our day.
We have all been to cookouts where the griller produces burnt hockey pucks and charred hot dogs. Eaters that are afraid of food poisoning and making friends sick, sear their meat to death. Well done ruins the flavor and fun of a Fat Juicy Burger!
My Grandmother made the best hamburgers. She had the knack. Each Pattie was cooked perfectly whether on a grill or in a frying pan. Only a fresh bun and summer tomato would do. Here are some tips to make a Better Burger almost as good as my Grandmothers.
How BIG should your burger be? The bigger the burger, the harder it is to grill. You also want a burger that will fit onto the bun. Burgers will shrink when cooked so anticipate that. A tiny burger on a huge bun is sad. A burger sticking out the sides is harder to eat. Try making your burgers at least ¾ inch thick, 4 inches wide and add a dimple in the center. This will fit more bun choices.
Grilling tricks! Dimple your burgers. Make a small depression in the center of your meat patties. A spoon will do the trick to make a dimple about an inch wide and 1/3 inch deep. This trick helps the burger retain its round shape. If you don’t do this, a burger ball will be the outcome. The burger needs to fit onto the bun and not slide or roll off. Grill your meat slow and low. Don’t burn it! Char is the excuse grillers use when they are not watching their meat or have a flaming grill that is Too Hot.
BEST BUNS? Great buns, like a great pizza crust, make the meal. Fresh is always a good start. The rest is a personal choice. Whole wheat, Kaiser, seeded, Brioche, or English Muffins are all good choices. You want a bun that will hold together when grasped and bitten. Toasting buns makes them more durable.
What grill style is BEST! Grillers all have their preference. “Charcoalers” swear by their kettle grills, “Propaners” like the quickness and control of their grills. “Pellet stovers” are smoking and baking their burgers. The George Foreman grill is a great choice for grilling indoors. You want to use a grill that is clean and will maintain a steady heat.
What beef is BEST? Personal taste is a factor here. “HAM” burgers are usually made from beef. Burgers can also be made from turkey, ham, fish, or vegan blends. A true Burger Lover eats BEEF! This means beef with fat in it. My Grandmother used only Ground Beef Chuck with an 80-20 blend. If you go leaner, add some Worcestershire Sauce, a pad of butter, or steam the burger under a covered lid to retain more moisture. Always add some salt and pepper, or a special burger spice blend. Seasoned meat will be more flavorful.
How long should you cook your burger? Taste and health are the 2 limitations here. USDA recommends the internal temperature of a burger needs to be at least 160 degrees. This means about 5 minutes per side. 3 minutes per side is for a medium rare burger which is about 130 degrees internally.
CONDIMENTS? Personal taste is the key. Traditional burgers add tomatoes, onions, bacon, cheeses salt and pepper, ketchup, mayo, mustard, pickles, relish, avocado, lettuce, etc. If you are not sure what your guests prefer, serve the burger open faced with the addons on the side.
Once the burger is complete, add some sides such as onion rings, fries, mac n cheese, or whatever the guests enjoy. These sides can enhance the Burgers presentation. Make the sides fresh and consider a homemade slaw or salad. Have plenty of napkins to keep the burger eaters presentable.
Make your guests never have to ask, “Where’s the Beef?”
For more Montana Grant, grill him at www.montanagrantfishing.com.