Everyone likes their burger done and dressed up differently. I prefer mine good and blackened, piled high with cheese, onion, tomato, lettuce and avocado, with a few pickles on the side. What about you?
However you like it, there are a few basic rules to abide by for your best burger ever…
Pick the Right Meat
The key to a juicy burger is fat. Ground chuck has the perfect meat-to-fat ratio: 80% lean meat to 20% fat. Ground sirloin is tasty, but it has 15% fat, so it’s good if you like your burgers firmer and less juicy. Use coarsely ground meat as opposed to fine ground to help keep it moist. And don’t fret, most of the excess fat drains off during cooking anyway.
Keep ‘Em Cold
Before forming the meat into burgers, chill it in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes for easier handling. After you’ve formed your patties, put them back in the fridge to cool down again for 30 to 45 minutes.
Handle With Care
Do not over-mix your meat, and form your patty loosely. The less you touch the meat, the lighter and juicier it will be. Right before grilling, dimple the top of your patty with your thumb so that when the center rises during cooking, the burger will come out flat and even. Also, form the meat about ½ an inch wider than the buns you plan to use; the burger will shrink slightly during cooking.
Add Spice Just Before Grilling
The more “stuff” like breadcrumbs, eggs, onions and seasonings you add to the meat, the more you’ll end up over-handling and losing the flavor of the meat. Add the spices, such as salt, pepper and chili powder, just before the burgers go on the grill, and don’t be sparing. Do not add salt before you form the burgers, because salt will melt the fat and dry the meat out.
Flip Just Once and Don’t Flatten
On a clean grill, turn up the temperature to medium and wait until the surface is hot before putting the burgers on. This will ensure a good crust on the meat that will seal the juices in. Cook each side for 4 minutes for a medium-cooked burger, and only flip once. Whatever you do, don’t flatten your burger by pressing it down with a spatula. The more you compress the burger, the tougher the meat will be.
Let ‘Em Rest
After you take them off the heat, let the burgers rest and redistribute their juices for two to three minutes, just like you would any steak. This way, it won’t immediately lose its juices at the first bite.
Use Hearty, Buttery Buns
Of course, don’t forget good buns. Try buttering and lightly toasting your buns – the top and edges get slightly crispy, leaving the inside soft and fluffy. The bun should be hearty enough to support your meat and toppings.
Good luck, and happy grilling!