Memorial Day weekend has just ended and if your neighborhood is anything like mine, charcoal grill and the wonderful scent of barbecue could be noted drifting through the hot summery breezes all weekend long.
Chicken, sausage, hot dogs and kebabs are all favorites among home grillers, but nothing says barbecue like a big, fat, juicy burger. Oddly, as popular as grilled cheeseburgers are, they’re also the most difficult to get right.
Many people have struggled with a burger that falls apart, or one that’s too dry. Maybe you end up with more of a hockey puck – or worse, a softball – rather than a bun-size patty.
Want a few burger tips? Look no further! Here are five simple steps to help you make a better burger:
1) Create your burger patties ahead of time and throw them in the fridge until you’re ready to grill. Normally you want to bring meat to room temp before cooking it because it promotes even done-ness. However, in the case of burgers I’ve found that keeping them in the fridge until the very last moment helps them keep their shape and not fall apart – and there’s nothing worse than losing half a burger down into the depths of your grill.
2) Use grated onion in your burger for added flavor without the harshness. This is a family favorite in our house for hamburgers, as well as meatloaf and potato salad. I find that kids enjoy the taste of onion, but they find it almost spicy when they eat an uncooked piece. Grating is the perfect solution!
3) Make your patties wider than the bun you plan to use. It’s inevitable that your patty will shrink after you put it on the grill, it just is. Avoid hockey puck syndrome by planning for the shrinkage by increasing the width to compensate. If you overcompensate, no worries! It’s far better to have more burger than it is to have more bun.
4) Press the inside of your burger patty down a bit so that it’s indented. Just like hockey puck syndrome, you also don’t want a burger that puffs up and turns round like a softball. Prevent this by indenting the middle of the patty so that when it does puff up you still have a normal shaped burger.
5) Don’t go light on the salt. There’s nothing worse than a bland burger, and typically all it takes to bring out the beefy goodness of a juicy patty is a nice dose of salt. We like garlic salt in our house, but regular sea salt or even table salt is fine.
What are your best tricks for making a perfect burger?