Here are Chef Larry G’s ultimate tips on how to score a “perfect 10” on the burgers at your next summer cookout.
1. Freshly Ground Beef is the Best.
Typical Grocery store ground beef is a guessing game. What parts? How old, really? You know the drill.
Make sure you have a trustworthy butcher and that your mix is at least 20% fat. To make sure, grind it yourself!
2. Make sure your mix stays cold.
The fat in warm ground beef fat is soft and sticky. What a mess! Keeping the grind well chilled when forming patties keeps the fat off your hands and in the burger!
3. Don’t mess with the meat!
Overworking the meat while forming the patties will cause heavy, overly dense, tight portions of the burger. And don’t you dare mix in anything like onions, breadcrumbs, whatever. Unless of course you want to have a meatloaf sandwich….Form your patties as tenderly as possible just coaxing it into patties. You will get a juicy evenly cooked burger every time.
4. No Salt in the mix.
Adding salt directly to the mix causes the meat to become dense and tight, especially around the edges. Blah. Pre-salting dissolves muscle proteins and turns burgers into sausage sponges.
5. But then… Season Liberally.
Even the best ground beef needs a little salt and pepper. Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, from peppercorns, that’s all you need that’s all you need.
6. Bun choice is a big deal!
For smaller, thinner patties, like a good griddled burger or small slider style, soft, sturdy, and slightly sweet potato rolls are perfect.
A bigger, pub-style burger may create a sopping juicy mess before the burger even arrives with a less hearty bake. Toasting the bun (which I love) can help a bit, but try al to select a slightly sturdier roll. Make sure to avoid anything overly chewy or crusty. Or, you will suffer the backside slide out. Usually right into your lap!
7. Finally, dress it how you like it!
I prefer cheddar cheese, red onions, a ton of pickles, and tomatoes, but only when they are super in-season.