Secrets to the Best Burger
- Begin with well-marbled unground boneless chuck steak, at least 20% fat content. Ground chuck at the store may contain partial cuts of other steak, and even if it doesn’t it’s usually overworked.
- Take the unground portion on the meat department and ask them to grind it once. For four 6 ounce burgers you’ll need 24 ounces of chuck.
- Gently spread the ground meat out on a tray and season it with salt and pepper. You don’t want to overwork the meat, so gently form into six ounce patties.
- The meat will shrink as it cooks, in order to minimize this shrinkage press your thumb into the patty center, leaving a depression there. The patties should be 4 inches in diameter and about ¾ inch thick.
- Get your grill (or grill pan) heated to medium-high heat. Drizzle olive oil (one with light flavor would be best for this application) on one side of the patties, then sprinkle sea salt and ground peppercorns on the oiled side.
- Place patties on grill oil side down. While they are cooking, oil and season the other side. Each side should take about 2-4 minutes to cook; the internal temperature should be 160 degrees Fahrenheit but finish it based on how you’d like your burger done. Rare will be about 2 minutes per side, well done can take up to 5 minutes per side. I prefer about 3 and half minutes per side.
- Do not press your patties as they cook, you want the juices to remain inside.
- Allow to rest for 3 minutes after grilling for the juices to redistribute.
- If you are cooking the burgers with fillings (as follows) reduce the heat to medium or low-medium and check the internal temperature, the insides need to hit 160 degrees as well.
- Try to only flip the patties once. Add cheese and cover for 30 seconds, then remove from grill.
- Use good rolls to serve. Onion seasoned rolls are a good choices, as are ciabatta rolls. Toast the rolls on the grill for a few seconds.
- Arrange toppings ahead of time on a platter and chill as you grill the burgers.
To Fill Your Burgers
- Flatten your patties to 1/3 inch, add filling and fold the meat over the filling, ensuring no filling is peaking out. Do not overfill. Only add one or two teaspoons of whatever filling you’d like.
- You won’t be able to leave much of a depression in the burger, just make sure it’s a bit wider in diameter to make up for the shrinkage.
- Pepperoni and mozzarella, both diced. Season the burger with the addition of parsley.
- Sharp cheddar, diced, and jalapenos, minced.
- Sauteed onions and blue cheese, crumbled.
- Feta, crumbled, dill, and jarred red pepper, diced and patted dry.
- Boursin cheese and crumpled bacon.
Photo credit Lynn Chan.