One of the most iconic foods to grill is the classic burger. And while it is timeless, there are still many new variations to the usual patty, dressing, and bun combo that you can try based on your preferences. When you’re grilling burgers at home, there’s no limit as to all the other add-ons. You can add bacon, pineapple, tomato, lettuce, lots of cheese, and even more dressing options, to name a few.
However you wish to have your burger, what matters most is you wind up having the tastiest, juiciest patties. Pros will tell you that meeting that goal is a concerted effort to master the right burger temperature, technique, and quality. If you are to make your burgers, whatever you do, do it right. But how?
Without further ado, here are a few tips to help you develop the best-tasting burgers.
1. Thaw Your Meat Completely
After getting the best meat from your local butcher, the last thing you’d want is to ruin its quality simply because you’ve failed to thaw it completely. Ideally, you’d like to have fresh meat ready to spice and prepare for grilling into patties on the same day. But, if that’s not possible, freezing them is fine. Just give enough time beforehand to let the meat settle and thaw.
You can do the cool-water method. It involves placing the sealed meat package in a large bowl, weighed down, and filling the bowl with cold water. This water should be refreshed every half an hour until the meat becomes soft.
2. Do Not Salt The Meat Before Patties Are Formed
While it’s a common practice to salt meat before doing anything with it, this practice is best brushed aside when it comes to creating burgers. It’s rather recommended to leave the meat as it is and salt it only when the patties are already formed.
Salt dissolves muscle proteins, which cross-links, turning burger patties from soft and tender to springy and sausage-like. This latter consistency isn’t what you’d like to have for your burgers.
Give it a few minutes after the meat has hit the grill or the griddle before you season it. You don’t adversely affect the burger patty’s external texture.
3. Always Start With A Clean Grill
If you know you’ll be grilling burgers tomorrow, take the time today to clean your grill. Like how you always start with a clean skillet and cooking oil for frying and cooking, the same principle holds water with grilling.
Start by scrubbing the grill gates with a brush to remove any residue from the last use. Then, oil the grill gates with your desired oil.
4. Avoid Extra-Lean Meat
While you may want to have a ‘healthier’ burger of sorts, take note that the best meat to use is always 80-20. This means 80% lean meat and at least 20% fat. Don’t skip the fat content. Using extra-lean meat may be good, but it’ll severely affect your burger’s taste and quality.
Keep in mind this guideline—the greater the fat content, the juicier the patty. A burger composed of at least 80% beef and 20% fat will undoubtedly be rich and moist.
5. Patty Shape Matters, Too
Be gentle when working with ground meat. Overworking your meat is possible, and that happens when you tinker around with it too much. Moreover, you could have burger patties that look like meatballs if you aren’t careful.
Shape the meat gently into flat discs that are evenly round and 1 inch thick. After forming the patty, carefully press a dimple into the center with your thumb. This promotes more uniform cooking of your patties.
6. Flip The Patty Only Once
Flip the patty too early, and you’ll have the opposite of meatballs—this time, you’ll have deformed patties. In fact, you’ll be lucky if you can still work your way towards forming back the patty.
Allow the bottom to form a crust, which typically takes around three minutes. Then, using a metal spatula, turn them over and let the other side develop a crust as well. Leave the patty for around four minutes or until your desired doneness is achieved. Like steaks, experts recommend leaving it up to medium.
Make it your goal to have burgers that are easy to throw on just about any day while pleasing everyone’s taste buds. Remember, no one likes to chew through dry and crumb-like patties. Have the suggestions above given you all the push and motivation you need to master grilling your burgers? Now, you need not head over to your usual burger joint, as you can make your own. Get your ingredients and start grilling and assembling your own burgers.