How to build a better burger

Published 5:31 pm Friday, July 5, 2024

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Backyard barbecue season is in full swing. Although many people grill all year long, grilling season kicks into high gear in spring and summer.

Burgers will always be quintessential grilling fare. Despite burgers’ popularity, it’s easy to make mistakes when preparing them. These tips can help anyone build a better burger.

Use freshly ground meat

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Buying ready-made ground meat (of any variety) is taking a gamble because you don’t know when it was ground, how many animals it came from or how it was handled. By freshly grinding the meat at home you will have greater control over the cut of meat and the fat content. Personally ground meat will be fresher, especially when you get nice cuts of meat directly from your local butcher. Top chefs suggest dicing cold meat into chunks and freezing for about 10 minutes prior to grinding for the best results.

Fat is key

For the most juicy, flavorful burger, you’ll want a ratio of 80 percent meat to 20 percent fat. Some people like to eat lean, but with a burger, the fat will be necessary and it’s better to select leaner meats for other dishes.

Don’t overwork the meat

Handling the burger patties too much can lead to dense, tough burgers. Gently shape the burgers into round, 1-inch thick, flat discs. To prevent the burgers from rounding in the middle during cooking, press a dimple with your thumb in the center of the patty to help it cook evenly. It’s a smart idea to weigh each patty to ensure uniformity of size and even cooking.

Don’t add salt early on

Salt added to the ground meat before it’s shaped can draw the liquid out of the meat, leaving a dry burger behind. Sprinkle salt sparingly while it is cooking for flavoring.

Avoid overcooking

Most health authorities recommend not leaving any pink meat in a burger made from ground meat. According to BBC Good Food, burgers can be cooked for 5 to 6 minutes on each side for medium and 8 to 9 minutes per side for well done. For the best results, use a food thermometer to check internal temperature. The USDA says ground meat, whether it’s pork, veal, beef or lamb, should be cooked to 160 F

Flip as desired

The cooking resource Serious Eats debunked the myth that burgers should only be flipped once. Flipping the burger repeatedly, as often as once every 15 seconds, encourages faster, more even internal cooking and can dramatically reduce cooking time.

Keep the patties separate

Let everyone build their own burgers, as keeping the cooked meat away from the burger buns for as long as possible will reduce the chances of the juices making the buns soggy. Soft, squishy buns tend to make for good burger eating, as they will not overwhelm the meat with too much crusty bread.

The smell of grilling burgers is in the air. Ensure that every burger is a masterpiece by utilizing some important cooking tips.