background img

Foodie Friday: 5 Tips for Grilling the Perfect Burger

Don’t look now, but lawn-mowing/yard-chore season is here. And if it’s time to mow, then it has to be time to grill — if there’s any justice in the universe.

The people at Weber believe the time is right and have put together “Weber’s Big Book of Burgers.” In addition to recipes for 84 burgers (including a shrimp burger and a chicken slider); 29 sausages, brats and hot dogs; and 37 sides and seasonings, the book offers these five tips for grilling the perfect beef burger.

1. Buy the right beef. Prepackaged ground beef from “no particular cut” gets you a burger that’s not bad, Weber says — but adds that you shouldn’t be afraid to ask a butcher to grind some chuck just for you, “maybe mixing in some sirloin for extra flavor.” Ground chuck, Weber points out, is typically about 20 percent fat, and fat is what makes burgers juicy.

2. Season it. Regardless of the cuts you pick, “make sure that the meat is mixed throughout with at least salt and pepper. Other ingredients, like Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, or grated onions, will improve not only the taste but also the juiciness of your burger.

3. Shape it. “The ideal thickness for a raw patty is ¾ inch,” Weber says. “Thinner, and it’ll dry out before a nice crust develops on the outside.” Thicker? You run the risk of a blackened crust and undercooked inside. “Be gentle when forming the patties, too,” the book admonishes. “If you compact the meat too much, the patties will be tough.”

4. Dimple it. Now here’s a trick I haven’t heard before in all my decades of grilling: “Burgers tend to puff up in the middle as they cook, making the tops rounded and awkward for piling on toppings.” So, the Weber folks urge, make a depression that’s bigger than a dimple, smaller than a well, in the center of each patty. You can use your thumb or the back of a spoon.

5. Time the turn. You should flip a burger once and only once, Weber says. Slide the edge of your spatula under the burger and gently lift up. If the meat sticks to the grill, put it right back down and wait a minute. When it’s just done enough to not stick, that’s when it’s ready to turn.

Susan Clotfelter