Today on the grill: The Perfect Burger. Nothing beats a perfectly cooked burger on a summer evening. If you get the burger right, the sky's the limit with toppings! See how to get both right here:
The foundation of a hamburger is the meat. Different cuts have different amounts of fat and flavor, and as we learned with steak, cut makes a big difference.
- Regular ground beef, a generic category that can be any cut or a combination of several, may by law have as much as 30 percent fat (can be greasy)
- Ground chuck has about 20 percent fat (juicy)
- Ground sirloin has about 15 percent fat (tasty)
- Ground round has about 11 percent fat, making it a favorite of dieters, but producing less-juicy burgers.
I like a mix of ground chuck and ground sirloin - the best of both worlds.
While the meat is still cold, divide into equal portions, about 6 ounces each. Work quickly and gently - handling the meat delicately prevents the burgers from getting too dense and firm, and keeping it cold prevents the fat from melting, which would also make the burgers tougher. Form each portion loosely into a 3/4-inch-thick burger and make a deep depression in the center with your thumb. This will keep your burgers from shrinking and help them keep their shape - without having to press down on them while you grill.
Season (liberally) both sides of each burger with salt and pepper.
Start with a clean, oiled, hot grill. First sear them over high heat to develop a crust, then move them to a cooler part of the grill to cook. And be sure NOT to press down on them while cooking — this will only squeeze out the juices and dry them out.
Grill the burgers until golden brown and slightly charred on the first side, about 3 minutes. Cook burgers until golden brown and slightly charred on the second side, 4 minutes for medium rare (3 minutes if topping with cheese; see step 3) or until cooked to desired degree of doneness.
Add the cheese, if using, to the tops of the burgers during the last minute of cooking and top with a basting cover, close the grill cover, or tent the burgers with aluminum foil to melt the cheese.
Toast hamburger buns lightly on the grill, then brush with melted butter. Sandwich the hot burgers between the buns, add any condiments or toppings and serve immediately.
- sliced fresh mozzarella cheese
- thinly sliced tomatoes
- chopped basil
- shredded pepper-jack cheese
- chopped jalapeno
- chopped green chiles
- sliced roasted red bell pepper
- crumbled feta cheese
- chopped oregano
For All American:
- shredded sharp cheddar cheese
- ketchup and mustard
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