It is time to break the grill out of hibernation and make burgers! Kick-off your summer barbecue season with burgers made from ground beef, chicken, lamb, or even bison! Keep reading for burger-making tips, from choosing the right meat to getting the perfect grill marks.
Tips for making great burgers on the grill:
Use fresh meat. It should not have any discoloration or give off a bad odor. If you do not see any meat that you like in the refrigerated case or at the butcher counter, choose a cut of meat and ask your butcher to grind it fresh for your burgers. You could also grind your own meat. Start with a boneless cut of chuck, cut into strips. Grind small batches in your food processor.
If you are using lean meat, remember that you will need to add ingredients to your burger to add moisture and keep your burgers delicious - chopped onions are a good choice. For a burger with plenty of flavor, use a 50/50 mix of ground chuck and ground sirloin. For a flavorful, low-fat burger, try bison meat.
Ideally, you should look for beef with a 85-90% ratio of beef to fat. You want to have enough fat for moisture and flavor, but too much will make your burger fall apart and feel greasy. For turkey, chicken, and lamb burgers, look for 18% fat.
Keep the meat as cold as possible throughout the burger making process, until it goes onto the grill. Mix your hamburgers with your hands. Moisten your hands with water so the hamburger meat does not stick to your hands as you mix. Do not over mix your meat or it will become tough and chewy.
Season your burgers with at least salt, pepper, and Worcestershire sauce. Add other seasonings to suit your taste or the type of burger you are making. Place a pat of butter or a bit of cheese within the burger patty to keep it moist.
Divide your burger mix into the amount of burgers you plan to make. Then form them into equally-sized patties, about ¾ inch thick. Use your thumb to place a small indent in the center of the burger so that you end up with a flat burger after it puffs up during cooking. After forming the patties, place them on a plate, cover it with plastic, and chill them in the fridge for a few hours.
Make sure the grill is clean and hot before putting your burgers on. Just before putting your burgers on the grill, brush them lightly on both sides with olive oil or melted butter so that they do not stick.
If you are cooking with a gas grill, leave the lid down. For a charcoal grill, leave the lid up. As you grill your burgers, do not press down on them. This will release their juices and make them dry and unappetizing instead of juicy and delicious. Do not overcrowd your grill, leave at least ? of it clear of food.
For great grill marks, turn the hamburger patty one quarter turn after it has been on the grill for about 2 minutes. Only flip your burgers once, cooking them until they are done, not until they are dry. A fully cooked beef burger should have an internal temperature of 160 F, its juices should run clear, and the meat should be a uniform color throughout. Burgers made with lean meat need to be cooked on lower heat for a little bit longer than burgers made with fattier meat.