5 Tips for the Perfect Burger

Recipe: 5 Tips for the Perfect Burger

Wheres the Beef?
What meat makes the best burger? Douglas Keane of Cyrus and the Healdsburg Bar & Grill, Healdsburg, CA uses 70% lean beef and says it is a marked improvement over 80% lean. Definitely, do not use a very lean beef because your burgers will turn out dry and flavorless.

“My, that IS a shapely burger!”
To avoid over-handling the raw meat, (causes a brick-like consistency) lightly press cold meat into the lid of a Hellmann’s mayonaise jar. According to Mark Richardson of The Four Seasons Hotel in SF, this size make the best burger mold. To ensure your burgers keep their shape and don’t puff up, use your thumb to press a dimple or well in the center of each patty. Bobby Flay says this will keep the burger flat and you won’t be tempted to press it down and lose all the juice.

Cold, then Hot Hot Hot
Sometimes you see chefs will bring meats to room temperature before hitting the grill, not so with burgers. Keep the burger patties cold, they will stay together better and stay as juicy as possible. Take them from refrigerator to a pre-heated hot grill (you can hold your hand 1-2 inches above grill for 2-3 seconds). The high heat will char the outside giving your burger good color and flavor. Now that it is on the hot grill, leave it alone! Once off the grill, let rest for 2-3 minutes.
Here are some rule of thumb cooking times:

  • 2 minutes per side for rare,
  • 3 minutes per side for med-rare,
  • 4 minutes per side for medium,
  • 5 minutes per side for well-done.

Just before the burgers go on the grill, generously salt and pepper both sides. Doing it early can dry out the meat.

Buns and Fixings
Get really good buns and heat them for a minute on the grill just before serving. Remember, the bread is half of the burger equation. In addition to lettuce, tomatoes and pickles, get creative with gourmet fixings. Try one of these toppings for a gourmet flair your guests won’t soon forget:

  • roasted red peppers and goat cheese,
  • chimichurri sauce (an Argentinean sauce found at most supermarkets),
  • truffle butter,
  • raspberry chipotle sauce (from Costco).