Hey there folks, and welcome once again to Grilling 101. This week, in honour of the legalization of gay marriage in the USA and with Independence Day around the corner, I think it’s time to pay homage to our neighbors to the south and talk about America’s most iconic food item: the burger.
Burgers are up there with steaks and sausages as the most commonly BBQd food items. You can either make the patties yourself or buy them fresh or frozen at the grocery store. Personally, I prefer the former because you have more option for flavour if you prepare the meat from scratch.
Making a patty yourself is pretty easy—just take some ground meat and flatten it into a ¾ inch circular shape with your hands or a cooking mallet/spatula. However, you’ll want to make sure the meat has a high enough fat percentage to give the burger its flavouring. The best meat for this would be meat made from ground chuck (if grinding yourself)
or regular or medium ground meat at your local grocery stores. You’ll also want to add a selection of seasonings to the meat for added flavour(as simple as salt and pepper to a complex combination of herbs, spices and wet ingredients to the mix), as well as at least 2 or 3 tablespoons of water (if your seasoning mixture doesn’t include anything on the moist side). This is important because grinding meat causes moisture to escape from the muscle fibers, which results in your meat becoming dry and tougher to work with. The water works in tangent with the fat to give your burgers their iconic juicy texture every time you bite into them.
One common problem faced with cooking burgers is how the meat rises as it cooks. Burger meat rises mostly in its centre, which can result in the meat becoming more spherical instead of a nice flat surface for toppings to be placed on. If you notice this start to happen, use the back of a spoon to lightly press an indent into the meat before you put it on the grill.
Once you’ve prepared the meat, you’re ready to begin cooking it. Burgers are best cooked on high heat to get them done as soon as possible. It’s difficult to judge how long a burger takes to cook, but a good indicator is when you notice the fat beginning to collect on the side not touching the grill—an average time of 5 or 6 minutes. Once you see the fat beginning to bubble, that means the meat is beginning to cook through and it’s time to flip onto the other side. This time, cook the burger a 1 or 2 minutes less than you cooked the original side, or until the meat is universally brown. If you’re still unsure, use an internal thermometer to check if the burger is at 145 degrees Fahrenheit. Once they’re done, let the burgers sit for 5 minutes so the juices can recede back into the meat, as well as some final internal cooking to take place. Once those 5 minutes are up, your burger is ready to serve.
Now despite how simple the instructions sound, there are several common misconceptions about burgers that people do that are actually spoiling their meal. First off, people tend to overwork their meat during the preparation stage, which results it becoming overly dense. This is bad because it causes the burger to dry up faster. Secondly, you should never press your spatula down on the burger. It doesn’t help cook the meat faster, and instead you’re squeezing out all of your juices and making your earlier steps adding water and choosing high fat meats pointless. Instead of pressing on the burger with your spatula, you can apply a weight directly to the patty itself to insure even and proper cooking resulting in the juicy burgers that you desire.
When it comes to burger recipes, there are so many out there to choose from. I suggest that you settle on a recipe to become your signature patty, experiment with a few combinations and variations of your “signature” for variety and of course, follow these simple grilling instructions to wow both your guests and yourself as a “burger meister” of the BBQ.
Why don’t you check out this great burger recipe from http://foodandwine.com to test out your burger grilling skills. Don’t worry if you can’t find kimchi – substituting regular slaw dressed with the “special sauce” will be absolutely amazing. Enjoy!
© Con Poulos
- TOTAL TIME:
- SERVINGS: 4
Chef Wesley Genovart makes this over-the-top, Shake Shack–inspired burger with two thin stacked patties, thick-cut bacon, kimchi and a spicy homemade sauce.
- 1/4 cup sambal oelek (Indonesian chile sauce)
- 1/4 cup mayonnaise
- 1/4 cup ketchup
- 4 slices of thick-cut bacon
- 1 1/4 pounds ground beef chuck
- Kosher salt
- 4 slices of American cheese
- 4 potato buns, toasted
- 1 cup chopped drained cabbage kimchi (6 ounces)
- In a small bowl, combine the sambal with the mayonnaise and ketchup and mix well.
- Light a grill or preheat a grill pan. Grill the bacon over moderate heat, turning, until golden and crisp, about 5 minutes total. Drain on paper towels.
- Form the beef into eight 1/4-inch-thick burgers and season with salt. Grill over high heat, turning, until browned, 1 minute per side. Make 4 stacks of 2 burgers each on the grill and spoon 1 tablespoon of the sambal mayo over each stack. Top with the cheese, cover and grill over high heat just until the cheese is melted, about 1 minute.
- Spread the remaining sambal mayo on the bottom buns. Top with the burgers, bacon and kimchi, close and serve.