Written by adam on Jan 17, 2008
10 Ways to Make Your Burgers Better
With the Superbowl fast approaching, it's time to start thinking about what you will offer your guests at the annual Superbowl watching party. Burgers are a perfect food to serve. They're fast and easy, and with a healthy supply of toppings, you can let your guests build their own.
Here are some of my tips for making your burgers just a little bit better.
1. Back Off. Sounds funny, but you should really back off on the seasonings and salt. You want to be able to taste the flavor of the meat and the smoke, not choke it out with that latest 16-spice rub. Let the meat come through and only use a little salt and pepper. Do more with your condiments and toppings to add flavor
2. Non-standard bun. Pre-packaged buns are so bland and boring. Buy a package of Kaiser rolls or Bolillos. They have more flavor and crisp up better over the coals.
3. Liquid Smoke. Add a teaspoon of liquid smoke to the ground meat per one lb. This is a neat little trick I made up for adding flavor without adding salt.
4. Butter. Brush the patties with a little bit of butter on each side. Not only will this lend an unbelievable flavor to the burgers, but the butter will instantly crust over the patty, giving that wonderful flame-broiled flavor vis a vis the Maillard Reaction.
5. Ground Pork. Add about one-third to one-half pound ground pork per one pound of ground beef. Pork and pork fat rule (or so I'm told). This is the perfect way to add depth of flavor to an otherwise boring patty. Be careful to use just plain ground pork. Sausage contains salt, herbs, an spices that will throw off the flavor of your burgers.
6. Grilled Onions. Instead of just slicing up some boring old onions and putting them on top of the patty, grill them instead. Again, this is all about building flavor. The grilled flavor of onions is unbeatable, and it will only add that much more depth of flavor.
7. Non-standard cheese. I am definitely of the opinion that sharp cheddar cheese is one of the gifts from the gods. But sometimes you can make your burgers better by using a non-traditional cheese. Instead of the standard American, Swiss, or cheddar, use Bleu cheese, Gouda, or Meunster.
8. Flip only once. Get to know your grill and how long it takes to cook certain thicknesses of ground meat. Once you learn all of this, try to master the flip once technique. It means that you should only flip the burger once during the cooking. In doing so, you will minimize juice loss and reduce the chances of flare up. Not only that, but you will minimize the chance of cross-contamination from your spatula.
9. Balance your toppings. Not literally balance, but balance the flavors. If you have a savory burger and cheese, use some sweet pickle relish on top to balance those flavors. If you like to put a lot of veggies on your burgers, be sure to give it a kick with some mustard or may for that salty/sour flavor.
10. Keep it simple. Over-complicating a burger is death to the burger. Sure, those Build a Better Burger show on the food network are entertaining, but the truth is that burgers that are stacked a foot high and have over 30 ingredients just aren't good. They're too complicated, with all of those flavors competing for your attention, when all you want to do is taste the meat of a good burger. Keep it simple; limit your ingredient list to under 12. Preferable under 10.
Check out my other burger related articles:
Making a Better Burger
Burger Making Procedures
Bullseye Burger Video
Responses to "10 Ways to Make Your Burgers Better" ...
How right you are!!!!! The KISS (keep it simple stupid) method is ALWAYS better.
Although it is a bit more work, occasionally I'll make my patties in a press, making them thin. Then I'll put something like onions or peppers or cheese or mushrooms or whatever strikes my fancy on top of a patty and then put another patty on top of that and seal it up. I call them "surprise burgers". Making the patties in a press and keeping them thin makes the process work better.
To me, burgers are like chocolate chip cookies...the worst one I ever had......was good.
Actually, that's a really good idea. With a press or a form, you can keep the size and weight consistent from burger to burger.
Adam said; "Actually, that's a really good idea. With a press or a form, you can keep the size and weight consistent from burger to burger."
Correcto-mundo Adam!!!!!! Actually that's the only time I ever weigh a burger. Suffice it to say that I'm from the "they can be too small but never too big" camp. So the only thing generally consistent w/my burgers is that they're big... unless I'm making surprise burgers. Then they're all big, but the same size and weight.