TAHOE/TRUCKEE — 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.— 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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