Be the King (or Queen) of the backyard barbecue this year by grilling the ultimate hamburger.
Step 1: Start with good meat Get a butcher to grind chuck beef for you with a 15% fat content. (More fat and it will just drip off the meat and cause fire flare-ups; less and your burger will be dry.) If possible, buy the meat the day you’re going to cook it.
TIP: Ask the butcher to grind the meat twice, once in the coarse plate of the grinder and then through the fine plate.
Step 2: Form half-inch patties Form half-inch-thick patties. Handle the meat as little as possible, so you don’t squeeze out the juices.
Step 3: Season the beef Season the patties by sprinkling the tops with whatever you like—salt, pepper, onion powder, garlic, and so on.
Step 4: Fold the patties Fold the patties over and reshape them so that the seasoning is now in the middle of the burger.
Step 5: Make an indentation Make a small indentation in the center of the burger with your thumb. This prevents the center from swelling, leading to uneven cooking.
Step 6: Refrigerate the patties Place the patties between stacks of waxed paper and refrigerate them for a few hours. Burger meat is best cooked cold.
Step 7: Get the grill ready Light the grill, and when it’s hot enough, take the patties out of the fridge, spritz them with a little cooking oil or brush them with some melted butter, and put them on the grill.
TIP: Don’t press down on the patties with your spatula as they’re cooking! It will just make you lose those tasty juices, leading to dry burgers.
Step 8: Cook until done Cook until your burgers reach the desired doneness. A medium burger should take about four minutes—three on one side, then one after you flip it.
TIP: To avoid E. coli contamination, avoid eating burgers that are still raw in the middle.
Step 9: Add cheese If you want a cheeseburger, slice the cheese thinly and put in on the burgers when the patties are almost ready to come off the grill. Now is the time to put that sliced bun on the grill, too. Brush it lightly with butter before toasting.
Step 10: Dig in! Add your lettuce, onion, tomato, ketchup, pickles, relish, or whatever, and enjoy!
FACT: Athens, Texas, Seymour, Wisconsin, and New Haven, Connecticut, all claim to be the birthplace of the hamburger.