All winter I dream about sun-drenched summer evenings and eating a juicy char-grilled burger fresh off the grill. Bliss! As it happens I’m not alone. According to a study conducted by Weber Barbecues, 98% of Canadians like to grill burgers of one kind or another in the summer. Although it wasn’t super warm last night, it was sun drenched so Oliver and I did indeed grill burgers and the results were stellar!
So fellow burger lovers follow these suggestions for making terrific tasting burgers from pantry ingredients. I’ve tried to give you a summer’s worth of tips so I hope you’ll bookmark this page.
The Basic Burger
1 small onion, grated
1 clove garlic, minced
1 egg, beaten
3 tbsp (45 mL) barbecue sauce
1/2 tsp (2 mL) salt
1/4 tsp (1 mL) pepper
1/4 cup (50 mL) fresh bread crumbs
1 lb (500 g) ground beef
Preheat grill to medium-high. Mix onion, garlic, egg, barbecue sauce, salt, and pepper until well combined in a large bowl. Stir in breadcrumbs. Crumble beef into bowl and toss gently until evenly combined.
Divide mixture into four. Use your hands to shape meat into 4 patties, each about 4-inches (10-cm) wide. Lightly grease grill and add patties. Grill, covered and turning just once, for about 10 minutes or until the internal temperature of the patties is 71°C (160°F). Makes 4 burgers.
10 Beyond Basic Burgers
1. Ginger-scallion: Substitute 1/2 cup (125 mL) finely chopped green onions (also called scallions) for grated onion. Omit barbecue sauce and add 1 tbsp (15 mL) minced fresh ginger and 3 tbsp (45 mL) soy sauce to meat mixture. Ideal for ground beef or pork.
2. Texas: Omit barbecue sauce and add 2 tbsp (30 mL) grated Parmesan cheese, 1 tbsp (15 mL) chili powder and 1 tsp (5 mL) oregano leaves. Ideal with ground beef.
3. Moroccan: Omit barbecue sauce and add 1 tsp (5 mL) dried mint, 1/4 tsp (1 mL) each cinnamon, cumin and coriander seed and 1/2 tsp (2 mL) hot pepper sauce. Excellent with ground lamb, pork or chicken.
4. Lemon-dill: Omit barbecue sauce and add 11/2 tsp (7 mL) dried dillweed and 2 tsp (10 mL) finely grated lemon zest. Ideal with ground veal or chicken.
5. Greek: Omit barbecue sauce and increase garlic to 2 cloves. Add 1 tsp (5 mL) each dried mint, oregano and dill, 1/2 tsp (2 mL) cinnamon and cumin and finely grated lemon peel. Good with lamb or pork.
6. Caesar: Replace barbecue sauce with 1/4 cup (50 mL) creamy Caesar salad dressing and bread crumbs with grated Parmesan cheese.
7. Peking: Omit salt and replace barbecue sauce with hoisin sauce and substitute 1/2 cup (125 mL) finely chopped green onions for grated onion. Increase garlic to 2 cloves. Good with ground beef or chicken.
8. Thai: Replace barbecue sauce with 1 tbsp (30 mL) each fish sauce, soy sauce and lime juice. Add 1 tsp (5 mL) finely grated lime peel and 3 tbsp (45 mL) chopped fresh coriander. Increase breadcrumbs to 1/2 cup (125 mL). Press 1 tbsp (15 mL) sesame seeds into patties as they are being shaped. Good for ground chicken.
9. Pesto: Replace barbecue sauce with 3 tbsp (45 mL) basil pesto and 1 tbsp (15 mL) finely grated lemon peel. Good for beef or veal.
10. Pizza: Replace barbecue sauce with tomato sauce. Add 1/4 cup (50 mL) chopped black olives, 1 tsp (5 mL) each dried basil and oregano and 1/2 cup (125 mL) shredded Italian blend cheese.
Dana’s Hot Tips for super sizzling burgers:
• For homemade club pack convenience, make double or triple batches of patties. Layer them between pieces of waxed paper and freeze. Be sure to make patties no more than 1/2-in (1-cm) thick so that they will grill quickly and evenly from their frozen state.
• To grill 1/2-in (1 cm) thick frozen burgers, reduce heat to medium and grill for 15 to 18 minutes, turning once.
• Although choosing extra lean ground meat for burgers has health appeal, burgers made with lean and medium ground meats will be juicier and freeze better.
• For tender burgers, form patties by pressing the ingredients together lightly so that the mixture doesn’t become too compacted.
• If making cheeseburgers, drape cheese over patties and cover for the last 60 seconds cooking time.
• For optimum safety, choose meat at the grocers with today’s packaging date, then prepare and cook or freeze patties on the same day.
• No matter how you like your steak, always cook burgers to well-done to ensure that any bacteria the meat may have come in contact with while being ground is eliminated.
Get more burger grilling tips from the experts at Health Canada.