It’s Summertime, Summertime, Sum-Sum Summertime!
And many of us here in the Western Hemisphere will be enjoying grilled hamburgers with our family and friends. Admittedly, a great hamburger is one of my very favorite foods, and while it’s not hard to prepare, there are some steps you can take to ensure that you get the full flavor and juicy texture.
You can still be smart about what you eat and enjoy the luxury of a juicy, flavorful hamburger. To get the right texture and taste, you’ll need to keep the fat content in beef higher, so plan your other dishes accordingly. Fresh fruit salads are beautiful, healthy and loaded with vitamins – and, thankfully, are fat free – so setting out a few varieties of fruits is a great idea.
HOW TO GRILL A GREAT HAMBURGER
fresh ground chuck or a mix of sirloin and chuck (about 1/2 lb. per burger)
salt & pepper
Start with fresh ground chuck. Chuck is the most flavorful type of ground beef, and comes from a single cut of beef. Plain “ground beef” can include meat from all over the animal. Make sure the chuck has a fat content of at least 15 to 22 percent to ensure juiciness.
If you prefer your burgers well done, ask your butcher for a higher fat content. This will allow you to cook them more without drying them out. You should work around that higher fat content by planning side dishes that have little or no fat.
Chill the beef well before forming patties. Wash your hands well, then form the patties.Make each patty by forming about half a pound of ground chuck into a tight ball about the size of a baseball.
Firmly press ball into a flat cake, first between your hands, then onto a clean cutting board.Use a spatula or other straight-edged tool to “pull in” the sides of the patty so that they remain together and tightForm patties about 1/2- to 3/4-inch thick. Make the diameter about 1/2 inch larger than the bun to allow for shrinkage.
Lightly oil the bars with vegetable oil by pouring oil onto a paper towel, then hold the towel with tongs to wipe the oil onto the grill bars. Build a hot fire in the grill or use a high temp setting. (If using The Big Green Egg like we do, consult the company website or your manual for suggested temp)
Season the burgers on both sides with salt and pepper. Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper give the best flavor.
Place the burgers on the grill over direct heat. Cook about 3 to 4 minutes per side, turning once. Do not press down on the burgers with the spatula during cooking – this only squeezes out the juices, encourages flame-ups and dries out the burger.
Check doneness by peeking inside a patty with a spatula, or use an instant-read food thermometer inserted into the center of the patty. See Tips below for recommended temperature.
Serve on fresh buns with any toppings you prefer. (Mine is coleslaw just like in the image)
There are really only three tips to making the perfect burger: use fresh ground chuck, don’t squeeze the patty during cooking, and enjoy them in good company.
A bit about safety: When making the patties, start with clean hands and clean tools, and wash up carefully when finished. Beware of allowing raw meat, or anything raw meat has touched, to come into contact with other surfaces. The USDA recommends that all ground meat be cooked to at least medium, to an internal temperature of 165 degrees F.