Chef Heather Hunsaker
Special to the Sun

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May 18, 2012
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Foodie news | Seven tips for the perfect burger

Summer brings late nights, days at the pool, and of course firing up the grill. America’s favorite food, hamburgers, are a grilling staple! While burgers and outdoor barbecues go together, well like, burgers and fries, mastering the perfect burger requires some useful knowledge.

Below are grill master tips to achieve the ultimate burger.

1. The meat: Most burger enthusiasts claim grinding your own meat is the only way to go, but for many this is not an option. However, purchasing good quality ground meat is important. Generic ground beef can be a combination of several cuts of beef, which tends to be higher in fat and will make a greasy burger. Choosing ground sirloin, at 15 percent fat, is the best burger option.

2. Don’t over work the meat: When adding seasonings, avoid over mixing the meat; which will cause burgers to be tough.

3. Chill the meat: Before forming the patties, chill the meat for 20-30 minutes. This step is crucial, since warm fat will easily melt while shaping the patties, thus causing a dry burger.

4. Form the perfect patty: After the meat has rested and chilled, divide each pound of beef into four equal patties. Wet hands with cold water and shape beef into 3/4-inch thick patties. While shaping the patties, gently form a small dimple in the center. This prevents the burger from “puffing up” while it cooks, making for an even burger.

5. Season: Salt and pepper will bring out the natural flavors of the beef. However, do not season with salt until after forming the patties and right before cooking. Salt dissolves muscle proteins and if added too early will make the burger tough.

6. Grill it up: Proper grilling techniques are crucial to cooking the perfect burger. Make sure the grill is extremely hot. Never press down on the burger patties, as this releases the natural juices in the burger. Let the burger cook for five minutes before flipping. Flipping only once prevents the burger from falling apart and sticking to the grill.

7. Perfectly melted cheese: After flipping, let the burger cook for three minutes and then top with cheese while the burger is still on the grill.

With grilling season here, and your new-found burger knowledge, impress your friends at your next barbecue by making the perfect burger!

Tex-Mex Burger

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Wait Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Serves: 4

1/2 Tbls. Cajun seasoning

1 pound ground beef

1 large jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped

1/2 cup diced white onion

1 clove garlic, minced

1 Tbls. Worcestershire sauce

4 slices pepper jack cheese

4 hamburger buns, split

salt and pepper, as needed

Preheat grill for medium-high heat.

In a large bowl, mix together the ground sirloin, jalapeno pepper, onion, garlic, Cajun seasoning, and Worcestershire sauce. Chill meat for at least 20 minutes, then divide meat mixture into four balls and form into patties. Season patties with salt and pepper.

Lightly oil the grilling surface, and place the patties on the grill. Cook for about 5 minutes per side, or until well done. During the last 2 minutes, lay a slice of cheese on top of each patty. Serve on buns with desired toppings, such as lettuce, tomatoes, red onions and pickles.

— Chef Heather Hunsaker attended and graduated from Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts, but has been developing family friendly meals since she was 9-years-old in her mother’s kitchen. She knows how to get food on the table in a pinch while sticking to a budget. Currently, Chef Heather serves as a writer and recipe developer for meal planning site www.foodonthetable.com.


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Tahoe Daily Tribune Updated May 18, 2012 07:48PM Published May 18, 2012 07:41PM Copyright 2012 Tahoe Daily Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.