With Memorial Day comes the return of backyard grilling season, which means plenty of burgers are on the horizon. Ensuring that warm spring and summer nights bring tender, juicy burgers and not dry, dense hockey pucks has to do with both sourcing and technique. Chowhounds have shared a few simple tricks and tips over the years, starting with buying the right ground beef.
Tip #1: Avoid extra-lean grinds. The higher the fat content, the moister the patty. A burger with beef that’s 80 percent lean (i.e., 20 percent fat) is luxurious and juicy, Brandon Nelson explains on Chowhound.
Tip #2: Minimal handling is just as important. Form the patties gently, compressing as little as possible. Just as overworking pastry and dough will make it tough, so will over-handling your meat.
Tip #3: Make an indentation in the middle of each patty. Just press your thumb (not too firmly) into the meat and the divot will prevent it from puffing up and will allow it to cook evenly, mike0989 says. This one is also endorsed by Jon Lemon, culinary director of Bareburger; see more BBQ tips and tricks from chefs.
Tip #4: Don’t press the patties with a spatula as they cook—that just forces out the juice. Your spatula is strictly for flipping, and only once.
Tip #5: Keep in mind there’s carryover cooking time, so pull the burgers off the grill just shy of your target doneness. They’ll be just right when they hit the table, cstr says. Conversely, pull them off when they already look perfect, and by the time they hit your bun, they’ll be overdone.
Tip #6: If you just can’t resist buying lean ground beef, try adding a bit of water to it, valerie says. A little extra moisture helps even well-done burgers stay juicy and tender, even if they’re made from 90 percent lean ground beef. Mix in 1/4 to 1/2 cup water per pound of ground beef before forming your patties to reap the tenderizing benefit of H20.
Tip #7: Try stuffing it with cheese and adding fat via toppings. The classic Juicy Lucy is a great option for anyone who wants a really luxurious burger, since it’s full of molten cheese:
Along those lines, adding fatty, moist condiments like aioli, bacon jam, ripe tomatoes, and sliced avocado will help boost your burger’s juicy factor (and flavor), but can’t totally save a bone-dry patty, so follow the tips above to ensure your burgers stay perfectly moist on the grill, and then go to town with the toppings. Check out 15 Non-Traditional Burger Recipes for Summer BBQs for ideas.
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Read More: The Ultimate Guide to Grilling & BBQ
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