The Perfect Burger

Spring is in the air and soon, the smoke of barbecue grills will be as well. Here are some tips to making the perfect burger. Follow them step for step and you’ll be amazed at the grill-master you’ve turned out to be!

1 Start with fresh ground chuck. Chuck is the most flavorful type of ground beef, and comes from a single cut of beef. Plain “ground beef” can include meat from all over the animal.

2 Make sure the chuck has a fat content of at least 15 to 20 percent to ensure juiciness. If you prefer your burgers well done, use a higher fat content. This will allow you to cook them more without drying them out.

3 Chill the beef well before forming patties.

4 Make each patty by forming about half a pound of ground chuck into a tight ball about the size of a baseball. Firmly press ball into a flat cake, first between your hands, then onto a clean cutting board.

5 Form patties about 1/2- to 3/4-inch thick. Make the diameter about 1/2 inch larger than the bun to allow for shrinkage. Use your thumb to make a divot in the middle of the patty. This will allow the middle to swell a bit without making meatballs out of your patties.

6 Build a hot fire in the grill. (I start at 500 degrees) Charcoal is my favorite, but for purposes of time restraints, I often use propane. There is no reason to use any oil. The fat from the burgers will ensure that they do not stick to the grate.

7 Season the burgers LIBERALLY on both sides with salt and pepper only. Around half of your seasoning will be lost in the grill. Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper give the best flavor.

8 Place the burgers on the grill over direct heat and quickly close the lid. Cook about 4 minutes per side, turning once. DO NOT press down on the burgers with the spatula during cooking – this only squeezes out the juices, encourages flame-ups and dries out the burger. DO NOT constantly poke, prod, or look at the burgers. LEAVE THE LID CLOSED!

If you’re looking, you’re not cooking.

9 Check doneness with an instant-read food thermometer inserted into the center of the patty. Pull the burgers when they reach 160 degrees, immediately cover the burgers on a platter with aluminum foil, and allow to rest for five minutes.

10 Serve on fresh buns with any toppings you prefer: cheese, tomatoes, lettuce, onion, pickles and condiments such as ketchup, mayonnaise or mustard. In my opinion, all a truly great burger needs is a thin layer of mayo, and a bun.

Quick Tip: Spread a thin layer of mayonnaise on both the top and bottom bun. The mayonnaise’s oil content will act as a barrier to keep the juices of the burger and other condiments from soaking your bun.

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