“Everyone knows how to make burger,” proclaimed my publisher (a man, via my publicist, a woman).
We were in the midst of preparing a giveaway recipe and had reprinted my instructions for Perfect Grassfed Hamburgers from my cookbook, Pure Beef: .
“Um, no they don’t,” I replied (to her). It’s surprising, perhaps, but true.
Burgers may be common, but to make them uncommonly good requires TLC.
5 simple tips for making Perfect grassfed burgers
1. Handle them lightly while shaping. You can’t toughen the meat (it’s ground) but you can melt the fats from the heat of your hands, which compacts the meat when it you want to keep the texture loose
2. Dimple the middle. A depression of about 1/4-inch deep and the size of a quarter will prevent the dreaded burger ball.
3. Season well. Beef needs salt to bring out its best. Just before grilling salt both sides well. You will be glad.
4. Get the grill hot and stand by while cooking. This is the crucial moment when you don’t want to risk overcooking so that the burger will stay juicy. Sear both sides and then finish cooking over the coolest part of the grill. (Turn them into cheeseburgers over low heat, too.)
5. Find or make the best bun. Try this recipe for whole wheat hamburger buns that are as tender, tasty and memorable as the meat.
Practice these tips over Memorial Day and they will serve you through the Fourth of July all the way to Labor Day, our three top burger holidays. By the way, these principles work whether you grill, sear or broil–you know for other times of the year.
For more details, check out The Ultimate Guide to the Best Grilled Grassfed Burgers at Home.
Perfect Grassfed Hamburgers
The perfect hamburger begins before you put it on the grill. If you pay attention to how you handle the meat, how you shape it and when you salt it, you'll get burgers with just the right loose, tender texture and the right size for the bun. Serve this burger on the best bun you can find. Either stock up on a great bakery bun or make and freeze a batch of these homemade Whole-Wheat Hamburger Buns to pull out whenever that burger craving hits you. Serve this burger--with cheese or without--topped with your choice of lettuce leaves, tomato, red onion slices and ketchup or your favorite toppings.
- 2 pounds grassfed ground beef
- kosher salt
Prepare a gas or charcoal grill for high heat (425-475 degrees F), scrape the grate clean and oil it lightly. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and spoon some kosher salt into a small bowl.
Divide the ground beef into 6 mounds on the baking sheet. Scoop up a mound in each hand and judge their weight as best you can. If they seem about the same, put one of the mounds down and pick up another one, again judging its weight against the first. Continue in this manner with each of the mounds, and add or subtract some of the ground beef to make them as equal as you can. (Or, you can use a scale with a piece of plastic wrap over it to weigh each mound for complete accuracy.)
Use both hands to gently press one mount int a 1-inch thick dish about 4 inches wide. Then rotate it between your palms to even up the edges without smashing it. Put the disk bask on the parchment paper and use your thumb to make a quarter-sized impression about 1/4-inch deep in the center. Repeat with the 5 remaining mounds of ground beef. Season them generously with the salt just before grilling.
When the grill is so hot that you can only hold your hand 4 inches above it for 5 seconds of less, place the patties on the hottest part of the grill. Cook them for 3 to 3 1/2 minutes, then flip and cook for 3-3 1/2 minutes more for medium rare. (For medium, slide the burgers to the coolest part of the grill--or turn it off. close the lid and cook for 1-3 minutes longer. Or add more time for more well done. ) If making cheeseburgers, add the cheese off heat with the lid closed until melted.
Discard the parchment paper from the baking sheet and arrange the cooked burgers on it. If desired, grill the buns, cut side down for 1-2 minutes and serve with your favorite toppings.