Okay, grillheads, listen up – this one is for you. Just because you aren’t cooking barbeque doesn’t mean you cant benefit from some barbeque techniques and lore. So fire up those grills, get out the ground chuck, and take heed:
- Never use lean ground beef. I shouldn’t have to tell you this, but I see lemmings at the grocery store buying “lean” and “extra lean” ground and it just makes me cringe. Barbeque aficionados know that fat = flavour. Period. Get regular ground, and don’t just get any old ground beef. Get a ground mix of brisket, short ribs, and bacon. If the place you shop wont give it to you, go elsewhere. Try going to a real butcher instead of some big box Supr-Save-Mart. If you can’t find someone to do this for you, the desperate emergency fallback is ground chuck. But you really want to make the effort to get the real thing.
- Don’t compress your patty. I’m not talking about on the grill, i am talking about when you make the damn things. Don’t press them flat! Don’t use a patty stacker or some other K-Tel tomfoolery. Rule of thumb with beef – the more you handle it, the tougher it gets. And this goes double for ground meat. Gently pat them into shape – your patties should be loose. If you are worried about them falling apart, put them in the freezer for 20 minutes before you grill.
- Baste your meat. People seem to forget the basic principles of cooking with fire when it comes to burgers. Here is a super easy mix that will knock your socks off: Blend one part dark ale, one part barbeque sauce (this one would do nicely) and one part melted butter. If you use a quarter cup of each, that will be good for two good-sized patties – adjust the amounts as needed for your feast. 3/4 of a cup for two patties seems like a lot, but remember that this isn’t a sauce – it is a baste or a mop – so you will need quite a bit as each coat soaks into the patty. Gently baste your burgers once a minute the entire time they are on the grill. You will go mental for the result.
- Buttter your buns. Really. If you toast your buns on the grill, butter the cut sides first, and put them butter-down on the grill. Don’t argue, just do it. If you only follow one tip here, this is the one.
Okay. Commit this stuff to memory, and then get grilling. Spatulas, ho!
(NOTE: This list originally specified ground chuck as the go-to for hamburger beef. It has been updated to reflect the fact that the brisket-shortrib blend makes ground chuck seem like sawdust.)