I may have mentioned this before but I can be a food snob when I go out to eat about certain dishes. My rule is: if I can make it better at home, I won’t buy it out…unless it’s tacos. Because I have very few rules about tacos. But when it comes to steaks and burgers, I have a VERY hard time ordering these things out because I just know how to rock them in my own kitchen and I hate to spend a bunch of money and feel like I would have been happier at my own house. Burgers are one of my favorite things – if they’re done well. My daughter shares my love. She had her first hamburger when we were travelling to Dallas when she was 18 months old. We went to In N Out Burger (we do not have these where I live) and she CRUSHED an entire burger – every bite – and most of her fries. She was a very small child and looked much younger than she was. Strangers were staring, wondering why I was giving my infant an adult sized hamburger. Soon, their wonder shifted to how this tiny child was devouring said burger with such power. It was a great day. She hasn’t stopped loving burgers. Needless to say, Burger Night is one of her favorites around our house.
I’m a charcoal grill girl. I think it’s worth the extra hassle because the flavor is so off the charts. If you’ve never worked with charcoal, sit yourself down for a few minutes and check out some how-to’s online and go for it. Grills are cheap and the flavor just can’t be topped. Fire up your charcoals and while it’s getting happy, get friendly with your ground chuck. I pay a little more for the good stuff. If you have a local butcher and can get ground beef straight from there, do it. Otherwise, grab some good quality stuff from your local grocer. I like a mix of 85% lean. You want enough fat to keep a good flavor but not so much that your coals flame up too bad from it draining out into the embers. I like to mix season salt, a little Worcestershire sauce and a good amount of ground black pepper into the chuck before I form the patties. People get all fancy with putting extra stuff in the patty mix. I prefer just the beef and some simple seasonings. If you’ve got good meat, you don’t have to add a bunch of other stuff to make it great. When you do form the patties, make sure they’re not too thick. I try to keep them about as thick as my finger – maybe a little thicker – and a little larger diameter than the buns I plan to serve them on. They will shrink up significantly and you don’t want a tiny little thing getting lost in the brioche. When your coals are hot, put the patties you’ve formed on the grate and cook them to your preference – I like a medium, myself. Don’t forget to add a slice or two of bacon and some great cheese right at the end of the patties cooking so it’s nice and melty when you serve.
I like to have the standard toppings for burgers: bacon, cheese, tomato, lettuce and onion. If you’re feeling fancy, slice an avocado up and put it on there. With your sauces, the sky is the limit. Pick your favorite and go to town. I prep the toppings while the burgers are grilling. Slice your buns and toast them briefly on the grill before serving.