What Not to Do When Grilling Up Burgers This Summer

Rochelle Bilow, photo by Romulo Yanes
Rochelle Bilow, photo by Romulo Yanes

Is there anything better than the classic simplicity of a burger fresh off the grill? A good burger—juicy, flavorful, and with just the right fixin’s—is summer eating at its best. Plus, there’s relatively little heavy lifting when it comes to making them, so it’s impossible to screw up a burger… or is it? We spoke with Bon Appétit senior food editor Dawn Perry about what not to do when grilling up burgers. Are you making any of these common cooking mistakes?

1. Go for the Expensive Meat
Top-of-the-line filet oughta make for a better burger, right? Wrong. Says Perry, “What really matters is that you use a cut with a nice amount of fat.” A nice amount of at least 15 percent to 20 percent fat will make for a juicier patty. “Listen, I just really like ground chuck,” she says, adding that sirloin is definitely something to steer clear of. “It’ll dry out when you cook it.” Oh, and while we’re talking about the meat of the matter: Yes, you can make a patty out of turkey, chicken, fish, veggies, or beans, but that’s not what this is about. This is all about the beef. And hey, it doesn’t take much effort to form your own patties. We recommend buying fresh ground meat over the pre-formed burgers. That way, you have total control over the seasoning. And speaking of seasoning ….

2. Go Custom-Crazy
A big burger deserves big flavor, but that doesn’t mean you need to go bananas with the seasoning. When you’re working with high-quality meat, sautéed onions mixed into the patties just aren’t necessary—and that goes double for raw onions. Other things to leave behind: egg, bread crumbs, cumin, garlic powder, taco seasoning, etc. It’s not a meatloaf, people! That said, don’t skimp on the salt and pepper. Season one side of the patty with salt and pepper right before you place it on the grill, seasoned side down. Before you flip the burger, season the other side.

3. Pack It In
Think gentle when forming your burgers; now is definitely not the time to be heavy-handed. Really packing them in will make for a dense, heavy, hockey puck of a burger. Consider the fact that the patty will be eaten on a relatively delicate bun (more on that later), not on a plate with a fork and a knife. And come hell or high water, your burger will expand as you grill it, so make a divot in the center of the burger. That way, when the patty gets bigger, it’ll stay perfectly fat and flat, not dome-shaped. (Nobody wants a dome-shaped burger.)

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SOURCE: Yahoo! Food, Bon Appetit

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