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Chef Raichlen info

Grill Tips

Steven Raichlen
see more great recipes and barbecue tips at Steve Raichlen's Web Site.

The Great American Hamburger
from The Barbecue! Bible(Workman Publishing, 1998)

What makes a great hamburger? First there's the meat. You want to use a flavorful cut, like sirloin (for uptown burgers), or chuck or round (if you're feeling more democratic). The meat should be ground twice - first through the coarse plate of the grinder, then through the fine plate. And it shouldn't be too lean. Fifteen to 20 percent fat is ideal.

I adhere to the "less is more" school when it comes to making hamburgers. Namely, the fewer ingredients you add to the meat, the better. Oh, I know how tempting it is for cooks to want to season the meat with onion, garlic, spices and condiments. But to taste a burger at its best keep it utterly simple. The garnishes will add all the flavor you need.

One final bit of advice. Handle the meat as little as possible: a few pats to form it into a patty. Anything more will rob the burger of its juiciness and primal flavor.

For the burgers:

  • 2 1/4 pounds ground round, chuck or sirloin
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, or olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 6 hamburger buns
  • 6 slices (1/2 inch thick) Vidalia or other sweet onion (optional)
For the topping (Any or all):
  • Iceberg lettuce leaves
  • Sliced fresh, ripe tomatoes
  • Sliced dill pickles or sweet pickles
  • Cooked bacon (2 strips per burger)
  • Ketchup
  • Mustard
  • Mayonnaise

1. Preheat the grill to high

2. Divide the meat into 6 equal portions. Lightly wet your hands with cold water, then form each portion of meat into a round patty. 4 inches across and of even thickness. (See note)

3. When ready to cook, oil the grill grate.

4. Brush one side of the patties and the onion slice (if using) lightly with melted butter and season with salt and pepper. Arrange both the burgers and onion slices, butter side down, on the hot grate and grill until nicely browned, about 4 minutes. Brush the other side lightly with more melted butter and season with more salt and pepper. Turn with a spatula and continue grilling untill nicely browned and cooked to taste, about 4 minutes for medium. Brush the cut sides of the buns with the remaining melted butter and place, cut side down, on the grill the last 2 minutes.

5. Set out the toppings. Place the burgers and onion slices on the buns and serve. Serves 6

Note: If not planning on cooking the burgers immediately, place on a large plate, cover loosely with plastic wrap, and refrigerate.

Steven Raichlen is an acclaimed food writer, cooking teacher, syndicated columnist and lecturer. Among his cookbooks are the IACP/Julia Child Award-winning Miami Spice and the two-time James Beard award-winning High Flavor Low Fat cookbook series. His other IACP honors include a nomination, this year, for Healthy Latin Cooking: 200 Sizzling Recipes From Mexico, Cuba, Caribbean, Brazil and Beyond, and the award for best single subjet cookbook in 1999 for The Barbecue Bible. He now lives and grills in Coconut Grove, Florida.

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