Friday, June 10, 2011

5 Tips For Grilling A Better Burger

5 Tips For Grilling A Better Burger

by Leslie Kelly,
May 20th 2011

A perfect sunshine-y day inspired me to fire up the grill yesterday evening for the first time this season. Actually, the seed was planted in the morning when I got a craving for potato salad. And what goes better with spuds mixed with mayo, mustard, pickles and onions -- the not-so-secret family recipe -- than a big burger?

So, what's the trick to making a super juicy burger at home? The kind you find at upscale restaurants.

A couple of years ago, I spent some time working in kitchens and I learned a few hundred things. I witnessed the making of the best burger I've ever tasted, a thick patty that the cooks made cross-hatch slashes in. They did that to keep the ground beef from expanding as it cooked. (Tip No. 1!)

Before cooking, though, let's prep. Tip 2: I like to go to a butcher who grinds their own beef. If I have the time, I might even grind my own, feeding chuck roast into my Kitchen Aid grinder. I lean toward lean ground beef, not extra lean. 

Most people put all sorts of effort into topping burgers, but I believe in focusing on the flavor of the meat. So, some seasoning is in order. In goes salt and pepper, some chopped garlic, a splash of olive oil. One of my favorite burgers of all time includes crispy bacon bits mixed into the meat. (Tip No. 3!)

After patting out the patties, pop them in the freezer for an hour or so. This tip (No. 4), which I picked up while working at a pub, helps the patties hold their shape.

Finally, for Tip 5, when cooking, never press down on the meat with a spatula. You can't have a juicy burger if you squeeze the juice out of your burger.

OK, one last bonus tip: For an extra gooey finish, use shredded cheese on top! I worked in one restaurant where they combined shredded sharp cheddar with butter. A totally decadent treat.

And here's my sister's potato salad recipe to serve alongside those juicy burgers!

Sissy's Potato Salad

2 pounds Yukon gold potatoes

1 cup mayo, preferably homemade

1/4 cup Dijon-style mustard

1 cup dill pickles, chopped

1 cup sweet white or red onion, chopped

4 hard boiled eggs, chopped

splash pickle juice

salt and pepper, to taste

Combine ingredients and let sit for at least a few hours. It's even better the next day.

-- Leslie Kelly

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