Well, spring has finally sprung in Minnesota. Or at least we are out of the deep freeze of this brutal winter. I’d rather not hear the words “polar vortex” ever again. After starting the month of March with highs well below zero, on Monday we made it to 53 degrees. That’s the warmest it had been since November 15th, 114 days ago, for those of you who are counting. We celebrated by firing up the grill and making some tasty cheeseburgers. Nothing smells like summer than meat cooking on a charcoal grill and nothing tastes like summer like big juicy burger.
So here’s the grill with the coals starting in a chimney. Ryan swears by charcoal and claims he’ll never buy a gas grill. It does give the food flavor that just can’t be replicated by propane, but on the other hand, it takes forever for the coals to be ready. We started the grill, then took Liam and Moxie for a walk. And don’t let the piles of snow fool you, 50 degrees is grilling weather, no matter how long it takes for the feet of snow to melt.
When we returned from our walk, the coals still needed a few minutes, so I pattied up the meat. I know everyone has their own secret for the best burgers, but here’s mine. I start with fresh, 85% lean ground beef. If I plan on browning hamburger for tacos or something I go with leaner beef, but when we’re grilling, the fattier stuff is better. The burgers are juicier and most of the fat drips out anyway. Then I season the meat with salt, pepper, a healthy splash of Worcestershire sauce, a couple shakes of Tabasco, and a drizzle of sriracha. I know it sounds like a lot of hot sauce, but the burgers aren’t spicy. It just gives them a little something, something you can’t quite put your finger on, but it’s good. If you don’t like hot sauce, feel free to skip it. The Worcestershire is the actual secret ingredient. It adds moisture to the burger and gives a “meaty” flavor. I add it to browned meat for tacos too. It’s fabulous.
Okay, then I make sure to mix the meat up and get the seasonings evenly distributed. No one wants to take a bite of pure Tabasco. Then I patty the meat. This was a pound of hamburger, so I made 4 quarter pound patties. Third pound patties are even better, but we’re making an attempt to eat better. so smaller burgers it is. I try to handle the meat as little as possible, just making sure the patties are firm enough to not fall through the grill grate. Too much manhandling makes for tough burgers. Then I make a dent in the top of each patty. I don’t know if it works, but I read somewhere that it keeps patties from turning into balls as they cook.
Now I leave the grilling up to Ryan. When I asked him how long he grills them for he said “until they’re done”. Very helpful, right? Apparently his actual process is to grill them on the first side until fat starts to ooze onto the top. Then he flips them over and cooks them for another minute or two. Then he moves the burgers to the cool side of the grill, puts cheeses on them and covers the grill until the cheese melts. Then he brings them inside and they look like this. These usually are a perfect medium. Done all the way through, with just the slightest hint of pink. If you are anti-pink, by all means leave them on a few extra seconds.
Now it is all about the toppings. I might like toppings more than burgers. It’s an art, really, to build the perfect tower of burgers and toppings, the different flavors harmonizing in every bite. I’m getting hungry just thinking about it. Anyway, here’s my usual. I start with a bakery bun, I apply mayo to the bottom bun, then the burger, then tomato, red onion, Famous Dave’s Signature Spicy Pickle Chips, bacon, lettuce, and then the top bun with mayo, mustard, and ketchup. It makes for big tower o’burger and I have to squish it a bit to fit it in my mouth, but it is oh so good. Of course, you can top your however you want. I’ve seen Ryan put barbecue sauce, bacon and peanut butter on his. Whatever floats your boat I guess.
- 1 lb 85% lean ground beef
- Worcestershire sauce
- Hamburger Buns
- Your choice of toppings, suggestions include: mayo, mustard, ketchup, BBQ sauce, tomato, onion, pickles, lettuce, bacon, peanut butter
- Season ground beef with salt, pepper, worcestershire, tabasco and sriracha. Form into patties, making sure to indent the top of each patty.
- Grill on a charcoal grill until fat starts to ooze to the top, flip and grill another minute or two until just before desired doneness. Move burgers to cool part of grill, top with choice of cheese and cover until cheese melts. Remove from grill.
- Place burger on bun and top with your choice of toppings.