July 14, 2009

summer = burger love

Nothing quite hits the spot like a great burger. Back in the late 90's, J and I were on a quest to find the best burger in San Francisco, sampling a new spot every week. We eventually had to stop because the magnitude of the calorie consumption was beginning to have a palpable effect... but not before our dedication to the journey was rewarded with some truly fantastic bites.

As great as it is to hit up your favorite burger joint for their best, making your own burgers can be just as good. With all of the great weather lately in Seattle, we've been grilling like maniacs. When grilling your own burgers, here are a couple of simple tips to ensure the right texture, juiciness and flavor:

1. Get great meat, freshly ground if you can. I prefer grass-fed ground chuck for a robust but clean flavor.

2. Season the meat well. Really well. As in lots of salt and pepper, particularly if you're making thick patties. You'll need to season thoroughly to make sure the flavor expression permeates throughout each mouthwatering bite.

3. Avoid ultra-lean ground beef. You don't want anything leaner than 15% fat, otherwise there won't be sufficient fat to render while cooking, keeping the patty super juicy and flavorful.

4. Don't over-handle the meat. Form the patties gently and somewhat loosely, with just a slight indentation in the middle to end up with a nice, level patty after grilling. Handling the meat too much or packing it together too tight will result in a tough patty.

Other than that, grilling the burger is super simple. For a 7 ounce patty, you can grill over medium high heat for 5-6 minutes per side for medium doneness. For this burger, I went with a brioche bun, caramelized onions, bleu cheese, a slice of a brandywine heirloom tomato, bacon and arugula. Add a nice pile of fresh cut, piping hot, crispy fries and a glass of Washington syrah... and I'm having a hard time thinking of anything more deeply satisfying.