Hurray, it’s May and National Hamburger Month! That means 31 wonderful days of celebrating perhaps my favorite food of all time — the hamburger! There is no question my hamburger game is strong, not only as connoisseur of every fine burger joint in town, but also as a self-proclaimed expert on how to grill ‘em up best at home. So, that being said, let’s get right down to the meat of the matter… and, at the bottom of the post, don’t miss the bonanza of nine beef burgers I have rounded up for your home-cooking pleasure.
Know Your Grinds. If you’ve ever walked up and down the meat aisle, you’ve probably noticed a head—spinning array of ground beef options for today’s consumer. Most chubs and Styrofoam trays are labeled by the lean-to-fat ratio of the grind ratio (eg: 95/5 means 95% lean and 5% fat). Other options include 90/10, 80/20, 70/30, a variety of specialty grinds. Grilling burgers is one of those times when a little more fat in the grind adds a lot more flavor to the finished product, so I opt for the 80/20 ground beef which is typically ground from the chuck cut. Use the Interactive Butcher Counter to find out more about ground beef here.
Form perfect patties. Here’s my secret trick form uniform patties that will grill evenly and look appetizing – use a recycled lid! No need to spend money on an official hamburger press, just repurpose a plastic lid from a food container. My lid is for a 1/2 pound patty is from a big container of peanut butter, but you can use other sizes to make smaller burgers or even sliders.
Also, when forming patties, use your thumb or a spoon to make an indention in the top middle of the burger. This will keep your hamburger puffing up in the middle while on the grill — no one wants a round, bloated meatball burger that won’t fill up the bun!
Keep seasoning simple. You can always dress up your burgers later with all the fixings, so I suggest not overdoing it on the seasonings — especially if grilling for a crowd with diverse tastes. Just a little bit of salt and pepper will do the trick or, if you’re feeling a bit fancier, try a Worcestershire sauce, garlic powder or Cavender’s Greek Seasoning.
Get ‘em on and off the grill fast. Burgers are going to grill up best over direct heat on a wood, charcoal or gas grill, heated to about 400F degrees with the lid up. Like other thinner meat cuts, it’s best to use higher heat and get the meat on and off the grill fairly quickly. While some of us like pink centers, I feel obliged to remind you that ground beef should be cooked to an internal temperature of 160F degrees for food safety. A ½-inch patty should cook in about 10 — 12 minutes. Check out the Texas Beef Council site for more grilling tips.
Know when to flip ‘em. Try to adhere to my rule of one flip and no spatula squishing. As the meat heats up, juices are pushed to the top and people have a tendency to want to flip and squish. However, when you see this “meat sweat” collecting on top of your burger after about 6 to 7 minutes, it’s time to flip ONCE. Flip the patty (never stab a fork in it) and grill 1 to 2 minutes less time than you did on the first side. Grillers who abstain from over-flipping and smashing down with a spatula (which prevents the deliciousness from dripping out), will be rewarded with a wonderfully juicy hamburger that will earn raves.
Be patient and let them rest. Everyone wants to bite into a burger straight off the grill, but this isn’t the best idea. All those meaty juices you’ve been trying to preserve by treating your patty with loving care on the grates will come rushing out and tenderness will be lost with the first bite. Instead, remove burgers from the grill and let them hang out on a platter for approximately five minutes, allowing the juices to settle and redistribute. This is the perfect time to slap on slices of cheese, haul out the condiments and toast a few buns on the barbie!
So, ready to put your burger skills to the test? Try out my grilling tips on this unique collection of beef hamburgers that will keep you busy for the rest of National Hamburger Month!