The Near-Perfect Grilled Hamburger

This is going to be a quick one, as I’ve been pretty busy for the last few days and who out there reads blogs on Memorial Day anyway? Well, if you are, you might want some tips on grilling the near-perfect hamburger, seeing as how today is the first day of summer and all.

(Side note: The author does not hold with the solstice and the equinox as the demarkation zones for the season. In the United States, the seasons are thus: Winter – January 2 – Beginning of Daylight Savings. Spring – Beginning of Daylight Savings – Memorial Day. Summer – Memorial Day – Labor Day. Fall – Labor Day – Thanksgiving. Holiday – Thanksgiving – New Years).

Anyway, cooking the near-perfect hamburger starts with your ingredients. Your beef should be of the 80%/20% variety. The juiciness of a hamburger comes from its fat – sorry to say. If you choose the 93% variety, you’ll wind up grilling yourself a hockey puck. Take roughly 30-40% of a pound of said meat, and coat the top of it with garlic salt, onion powder and black pepper. Work the seasonings into the meat.

Then press out a patty that’s slightly bigger than the bun you’re choosing to serve said burger on – the meat will shrink. The meat should be slightly less than an inch thick. Do this in advance, and allow the meat to come to room temperature before cooking.

Optional – if you’re like me and love your bacon cheeseburgers, now’s the time to wrap a strip or two of bacon around the patty. Then press the bacon into the patty to help it stay in place.

Now – fire up your CHARCOAL grill. Sorry propane folks; there’s a massive difference in taste between a gas grill and a charcoal one. Allow the flames to die down and stay there for about five minutes. Then, bring the coals as close to the grills as you can and close the lid for about three minutes. This will both heat the grills to sizzling, and clean them at the same time.

Drop your burger onto the grill. Resist the temptation to do what most hamburger grillers do, and DO NOT press down on the burger with your spatula. This pushes the fat out of the burger, and you don’t want this! Allow the burger to sear for around 3-4 minutes (it’s okay if the flames kiss it a bit). Once you can pull the burger off the grill without scraping meat away, it’s ready to flip. Do this, and repeat, flipping the burger again.

At this point, drop the coals down away from the meat and the grills, and cook the burger for around 2-3 minutes with the lid closed. Open the lid, and flip it. At this point, add a thick slice of cheese – I prefer cheddar. Close the lid, and cook the burger another couple of minutes. If you like them well done, make it a little longer. For rare – cut the time a bit.

Serve immediately.