Simple Backyard Burgers
Burgers are your typical backyard bbq perennial go-to meat. That doesn’t mean the burgers have to be typical. And mine are never anything but tasty and juicy. This recipe is as simple as the title says. You can leave out any herb or seasoning and they will still be great tasting burgers. The key is how you cook them on the grill.
There are a few important things to remember when cooking just about any meat over (or in) any heating source. The first is to NEVER press or spear the meat! Doing so releases all of the juices and leaves you with a dry piece of rubber or brick that will have to be either choked down with copious amounts of a beverage or smothered in a sauce. Now, smothering in a sauce isn’t always a bad thing, but it is my belief that one should be able to enjoy and savor a piece of meat without having to add a sauce. If it’s not good enough to stand alone, then it’s not good enough. The second thing to remember is to turn the meat over only once through the cooking time. Again, this will help retain the natural juices. You can turn the meat without flipping it in order to get the grill marks pretty (I could care less-I’m just going to eat it!) if you are so inclined, but do so without turning over. The last thing I want all of you to remember is to make sure you let the meat sit out for a little while before putting it on the grill. Let it come to (or at least close to) room temperature. This allows for less cooking time, thereby retaining more of those juices and it lets the meat relax. Just like us, when a piece of meat is cold, it tenses and shrinks up and needs a little time to relax. A gradual warm-up is better than the shock of sudden heat.
Recipe (All measurements are approximate)
To about 2 pounds of ground beef (I use 70% lean-lots of natural flavor and keeps burgers juicy):
1 tbsp dry minced onion
1/4 tsp garlic powder or 1 clove minced fresh garlic
1 tsp dill weed or about 1/2 tbsp chopped fresh dill
2 tsp ground mustard
2 tsp paprika
1/8-1/4 tsp white pepper
2 tsp coriander
1-1/2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
cheese slices (any type goes well with this recipe)
These may be prepared well ahead of time. If preparing more than a 1/2 hour before putting on the grill, refrigerate. I have prepared the burgers when I bring the ground beef home and put them in the freezer, taking out the night before to thaw in the fridge. Other times, I’ve prepared them after starting the fire and either way is just fine.
Mix all ingredients except cheese in a bowl. Mix well.
A trick I learned from Rachael Ray: put an indention in the center of the burger patty-the burgers will cook evenly. Works very well.
To grill: start charcoal fire for direct cooking, using approximately 30-40 coals. Once spread, this will be enough to provide heat extending a little way beyond the surface area you will need for the burgers.
You will be cooking the burgers over direct, high heat (8-10″ above coals, hold hand-about 2-4 seconds should be all you can stand).
After 5 minutes or so, burger should start to look like this. See the juices collecting in the indention. You know these are going to be good! Remember, you are only turning over once. No matter how tempting it may be to turn over at this point, don’t do it!
Flare ups will occur with a higher fat content burger. Keep your trusty squirt bottle on hand to put them out (unless you like flame broiled-I don’t. You will dry out your burger).
Flip burgers over when edges are brown, about 8-10 minutes into cooking time. When using a spatula to flip food over on a grill, follow the lines of the grill. If you flip the food against the grill lines, you risk sending your food down into the coals. That would make me sad. I hate seeing food turn into burnt up shrivels of coals. And it will smell awful.
Wait another couple of minutes or so, juices again will come to the surface. Move all burgers to edges of grill, away from direct heat. Then you will add your slices of cheese. This time around, I used some crumbled feta (garlic and herb) and american cheeses. Other times I have used apple wood smoked cheddar and cheddar jack. Any cheese will do with this simple combo of beef and seasonings. Once the cheese is on the burgers, place the lid over the grill, leaving the vent on top open.
Wait 3-4 minutes to let the cheese absorb some smoke and get nice and gooey.
Remove from grill. Add any other toppings you choose and enjoy!
Until next time, Grill, Baby, Grill!