There’s no summer tradition quite as special as grilling out burgers in the back garden. This staple of summertime is universally beloved and can be found at just about any barbecue. Much like its cookout companion the hot dog, burgers present a myriad of culinary possibilities for cooks of all experience levels. From proper grilling techniques to serving up the perfect side dishes, there are plenty of ways in which you can up your grill game and become the block’s burgermeister.
As you prepare for the first cookout of the season, you’ll need to decide which type of patty you’ll be tossing on the grill: pre-prepared frozen burgers or handcrafted patties. It’s certainly tempting to just grab a box of burgers from the frozen aisle. The truth of the matter is that not only do homemade burgers taste better, they are far better for you.
You don’t have to be a master burger chef to create your own patties, as there’s a few steps you can take to get them just right no matter how much experience you have. Use beef with a higher fat percentage for a juicy, flavourful burger. And don’t forget that the patties will shrink while grilling, so be sure to make your patties on the larger side.
The Spice of Life
Seasonings are the secret to a superior burger, so don’t be afraid to generously spice up your meat. Add in some garlic powder, onion powder, and classic salt & black pepper to your patty for a traditional yet delicious burger. When making sure the seasonings are evenly distributed, be careful not to overwork the patties, or they’ll end up rubbery. Use a fork to separate the ground meat and help spread the flavour around before you get hands on with it.
Wanna get all Gordon Ramsay up in your burger prep? Add 1T of dijon mustard and 1t of Worcestershire sauce along with garlic powder, onion powder, black pepper and salt to taste for every 450g of ground beef.
After your patties have been properly seasoned, it’s time to form them. The handy gadget known as a burger mold will save you some frustration, and keep you from overworking your burger. Keep in mind that when you put your patties on the grill, they’ll shrink up quick.
So after removing them from the mold, push down gently in the center in an even manner so the outer edge is fatter than the center. This allows the patty to shrink without getting fat in the middle. Now you’re ready to take off your grill covers and set those patties to sizzling!
Grilling and Chilling
The key to grilling the best burgers lies within the grill itself. Whether you’re using a charcoal grill or a gas griddle, there are steps you can take to ensure that your backyard burgers are savory, well cooked, and ready to be enjoyed by friends and family under the comfort of your solar shades once you’ve removed the sofa covers.
Your grill needs regular, thorough maintenance in order to perform at its best. Much like protecting the rest of your patio furniture with table covers and sofa covers, grill maintenance begins with keeping the grill covered when not in use. Before grilling, brush down your grates with a wire brush and wipe down with oil. A clean grill prevents patties from sticking and prolongs your griddle’s lifespan.
Another huge factor in grilling burgers is temperature. Your first instinct may be to turn the temperature to the limit for quick cooking, but barbecue experts recommend sticking to medium temperatures for the best burger results.
A too hot grilling surface will burn the outside of your patty while failing to cook the inside all the way through. On the other end of the spectrum, a grill that’s too cool won’t be able to sear the outside and all the juices will escape. Keep temperatures at a happy medium while cutting down on the patty flipping: one flip is enough to fully cook your patties and will result in those highly-coveted grill marks.
We all have our own personal favorites when it comes to burger toppings. For some, classic cheddar cheese with lettuce, tomato, and onion are all the makings you need for a delicious backyard burger. And for others, more daring culinary offerings like avocado, stuffed mushroom, or a fried egg do the trick.
Because each of your guests comes with their own unique tastes, it’s important to provide a wide variety of choices they can pick from when customizing their burger. Ask each of your guests prior to the cookout about their topping tastes, and stock up on all the necessary ingredients ahead of time.
Are your friends and family open to any condiment that comes their way? A toppings bar is a great way to offer up some unconventional flavours to make a burger masterpiece. Your backyard barbecue will no doubt stand out from the average grill out when you go all out with a kitchen’s worth of condiments atop a protective table cover. Need some inspiration? Start with mac and cheese, peanut sauce, and bacon and onion jam for some off the wall toppings.
Burgers may be the star player in your cookout, but the supporting role of the side dish is just as important. French fries, the classic companion to the burger, can be made more exciting if you opt for sweet potato or zucchini instead of traditional potato fries. And be sure to have a plethora of condiments available for delicious dipping.
Baked beans are another cookout staple that can be jazzed up for the occasion. Pick up a can of regular baked beans from the market, then add some mustard, molasses, and caramelized onions. Let it simmer and voilà – you’ve got a brand-new take on an old favorite. Round out the side dish selection with a selection of crisps in various flavours, and you’re all set.