The Perfect Grilled Burger
Most importantly, the beef must be about 80% lean--and NO MORE! I know, I know...that seems pretty fatty. But the fat is important in a patty--as it cooks, the fat adds moisture to the burger. Quite a bit of the fat does cook away, as you can tell when the patty is on the grill...it flames up a lot more than a lean patty! So step #1 is to head to the store or local meat locker and get 80% lean ground beef. (I know you can use turkey, salmon, soybeans...all kinds of other things, but this is a cattle ranch, remember!?) How much do you need? I like to make 3 patties per pound of ground beef. Any smaller, and they don't fit the bun! Any bigger and it just seems too big. But my teenage boys might eat 2 burgers anyway. So figure 3 to 1 pound.
The next step is important! Make sure your hands are clean because you must form the patty with your hands. Work the meat into a ball by squeezing it back and forth in your hands a bit. Don't work it too long, but the goal is to have it all hang together without too many cracks in the patty when you flatten it. So it needs to be worked a bit in your hands. I should mention that I don't mix anything into my patties...many people do, such as seasonings or herbs. I've seen an awesome burger recipe with mushrooms and cheese in the middle...so, do what you want with that. I'd love to hear what you mix into your burgers--leave me a comment!
Now, it's time to light the grill. I admit it...I'm a gas grill lover. I know, many people swear by charcoal and I do love the flavor of charcoal. I also love smoke pellets---but I just don't have the patience to wait for the charcoal to be ready when I've got three starving teenage boys watching my every move! So I do cook with charcoal from time to time when I'm extremely organized, but that is very rarely the case. The gas grill is perfect for us. My thermometer on my grill is broken...probably because I use it nearly every day. So I don't rely on it at all. I start the grill up on high for a few minutes then turn it down to low medium for the actual cooking. The idea is to cook the burgers SLOWLY. If you cook them fast on high heat, they will be charbroiled on the outside and raw on the inside. That is not safe with ground meat. We'll talk about it in a bit, but you need to cook the patty to 160 degrees in the middle to be safe.
Check the recipe here for our Super Secret Seasoning. If I forget to use our seasoning, the boys add it themselves as they top their burger. Also an important food safety tip...do not put the cooked burgers on the same platter that held raw burgers. Ground beef is usually bacteria-free, but if there happens to be any bacteria like E-coli, it is killed by cooking. Good food safety doesn't stop with the processing and packaging, but is also a responsibility of the cook!
My favorite burger has lettuce, cheese, ketchup and mayonnaise (no NOT Miracle Whip) and a slice of a homegrown beefsteak tomato--sometimes we'll go crazy and make some bacon and mushrooms to put on our burgers. But usually the good old standbys are just what we want. I just planted the beefsteak tomato plants in our garden, so there are obviously no tomatoes available yet. But we'll enjoy these burgers tonight before the boys play a home baseball game. MMMmmm....I love summer!!