Basic burger tips

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.

9 Responses to Basic burger tips

  1. Rob says:

    I’m grillin’ Moroccan lamb burgers this weekend. They sound delicious!

  2. danamccauley says:

    Rob, you’re my kind of griller! Report back on how it goes.

  3. Chris says:

    Dana, your grilling tips are great!!! I’ve passed them on to some of my griller friends and family (in hope of being invited over for a nice steak or burger). Keep them coming!

  4. danamccauley says:

    Chris, you are a wise person! I like this Tom Sawyer approach you are taking.

  5. hoseenfeffer says:

    I’m not sure my instant read thermometer is accurate. Do you know how long they usually last?

  6. danamccauley says:

    Hossenfeffer, you can test your instant read easily. Boil the kettle and pour a cup of water. Insert the instant read and if it doesn’t register 100 celsius, you know it isn’t working properly.

    These instruments are tempermental. IF they are dropped or immersed in water, they can get damaged.

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