How to cook the perfect burger
So you’ve dusted off the grill and invited a dozen of your friends over for the first BBQ of the year. Congrats! Now you need to set the bar high in terms of food so YOUR BBQ will be the one everyone else’s is compared to for the rest of the year.
The solution is to learn how to cook the perfect burger.
It really isn’t that hard. You just have to take your time and stick to the basics.
Let’s start with the buns. My advice is to NOT buy “hamburger rolls” at the grocery store. The moment you place a burger on one of those buns it’s game over. You have lost. Your BBQ will be forgotten quickly unless one of your friends falls in the pool or the fire department is called. As far as food is concerned, you are out of the running.
One option is Kaiser rolls. You can buy a bag of these in most bakery sections at larger grocery stores. Or you can ask the local baker to make some sourdough rolls or some dark bread rolls. Another option is small rolls for sliders instead of full-sized burgers. This will give your party an instant boost as far as being remembered.
The next consideration for how to cook the perfect burger is toppings. Get the best cheeses — no American cheese or cheese whiz. Prep the best tomatoes, lettuce, red onions, and avocados. Have mushrooms and onions sautéed before hand. Make sure you have relish, ketchup, mayo, yellow and brown mustard, and hot sauce on hand.
Once you’ve decided on the size of the rolls/buns, it’s time to make your burgers. If you have a kitchen scale, you can ensure consistency by making them all the same size. For sliders, I’d recommend 3 oz. or less. For bigger burgers, I’d go with 5-8 oz.
Buy the highest quality beef and have it ground at the butcher’s or meat department of your grocer on the spot. This will ensure the best quality your money can buy and assure you that the meat doesn’t have any, um, bacterial issues. You’re halfway to knowing how to cook the perfect burger.
When making the patties, take all the beef and place it in a bowl. Add salt and pepper, garlic, diced onion, one or two raw eggs, and any herbs you wish to add (I often add dried basil, rosemary, or even hot pepper to give the burgers a little “kick”). You can even split the beef into several bowls and make different kinds of burgers. Weigh them, roll them, and slap them into the perfect burger shape. Stack them on a plate or cookie sheet and separate the layers with wax paper or plastic wrap. Avoid aluminum, if possible. It can take away from the flavor.
“The rule for how to cook the perfect burger is this: wait until the sides of the burger are browned before even THINKING about flipping them.”
It’s time to cook your burgers.
First, make sure your grill isn’t too hot. It’s best to keep it around 300-350 degrees F to cook your burgers evenly. If you don’t know how hot the grill is, test it with a hot dog or small burger patty first. If this burns quickly, it’s far too hot.
The rule for how to cook the perfect burger is this: wait until the sides of the burger are browned before even THINKING about flipping them. When you’ve flipped them once, you almost have a perfect medium rare burger. Avoid the urge to add straight BBQ sauce to the burger too early in the cooking process. The sugar in the sauce will burn too quickly and ruin the flavor of your burger.
Use a fork to gently poke the center of the burger and lightly pull it open to check on wellness. Medium rare should have plenty of pink and even a hint of red. Medium should still have pink and well should be brown all the way through. If anyone asks for extra well done remind him that this is unacceptable and offer him a hot dog. (I’m only sort of kidding.) And maintain control of the grill at all times to ensure perfection.
You will achieve legendary status if you follow these instructions. Your BBQ will be spoken of in hushed tones for years to come. Also, it won’t hurt if someone falls in the pool.