Tuesday, June 2, 2009

3 Tips for Perfect Grilled Burgers

Venison burgers with feta & grilled veggies
Tired of tough, dense and dry grilled burgers that remind you of hockey pucks? Or patties that transform into domed or puffed-up burgers that cause condiments to slide off and prevent bun tops from lying flat? Here are 3 tips that ensure your grilled burgers will be tender and juicy, with a flavorful crust and flat surface that will embrace your condiments and accept your buns:

1. Use ground beef (or other meat) with at least 20% fat content (no more than 80% lean). Yes, I know that's a lot of fat, but you really do need it if you want your burgers to survive the flames and remain juicy and tender. Plus, some of this fat will cook off anyway. Most experts recommend ground chuck, and our resident grill guru agrees.

2. Form a slight depression in the middle of each patty, so that the edges of the burger are just under an inch thick while the middle is around a half-inch thick. The depression in the middle will keep the burger from puffing up or turning into a ball as it grills, and the end result is a nice, flat patty. This is a little secret used by restaurants to produce beautifully flat gourmet burgers.

3. Sear over high heat on a clean grill grate, then finish cooking over indirect heat on a clean grill grate. Yes, making sure the grate is clean is crucial, because burgers (or any food for that matter) are far more likely to stick to a dirty or crusty grill grate. The quick sear will seal the juices and flavor while creating a nice crust, and then cooking over medium indirect heat will keep the meat from drying out.

Bonus tip: For added flavor, mix in a little seasoning or sauce with the ground meat before forming the patties. Two excellent choices are Ole Ray's Steak & Brisket Sauce, which also doubles as a tasty replacement for ketchup on burgers, and Bone Suckin' Seasoning & Rub, which adds robust spicy flavor but isn't hot/fiery so everyone in the family can enjoy the burgers. I use one or the other, not both at the same time.

Happy grilling!

Zestfully yours,

PS: Don't insult your perfect burgers by topping them with mass-produced supermarket ketchup made from inferior ingredients. Instead, compliment them with your choice of Melinda's Ketchups, made in small batches from the finest, all-natural ingredients and sweetened with pure cane sugar, NOT high-fructose corn syrup. Melinda's Ketchups are available in gourmet Black Pepper Ketchup, zesty Jalapeno Ketchup, smoky Chipotle Ketchup, and fiery Habanero Ketchup. Be on the lookout for their new Ghost Pepper Ketchup, coming soon to the Carolina Sauce Company!

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