Simmer down, grilling fanatics. You’ve got plenty of time for your outdoor culinary fireworks. There’s a long, hot summer ahead and ample opportunity to try out your fancy, coal-fired specialties.
That Guinness-spiked leg of lamb, and that agave-glazed pork belly, and those elk backstrap medallions you’re raring to attempt? They can wait. Really.
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FIVE STEPS TO A BETTER BURGER
1. Great meat equals great flavor. “Look for freshly ground chuck with a ratio of 80 percent meat to 20 percent fat… Why 20 percent? Because fat equals flavor. It’s that simple.”
2. Make the patty gently. “Pack the meat loosely, just enough that it holds together… Before placing it on the grill, make a small indentation in the center with your thumb. This prevents it from contracting and forming a bulge in the middle.”
3. Grill over medium to high heat. “Three to 4 minutes per side is all it should take to cook a 3/4-inch-thick burger to medium-rare… While the burger is cooking, resist the urge to press it with your spatula… Turn the burger once, and no more.”
4. Going for cheese? Go all-American. “For classic melty, gooey goodness, seeping into the crags of the patty and merging with the special sauce, nothing beats American.”
5. The bun: we say potato. Potato rolls “complement the beefy flavor of the burger without getting in the way. They make the burger the star and add a touch of sweetness that is a great foil for the salty, savory beef.”
Source: Bon Appétit’s “The Grilling Book,” ($45, Andrews McMeel Publishing)
SET UP A CONDIMENT BAR
- Mix and match diverse condiments that could top either burgers or hot dogs.
- Set out a variety of pickles and pickled veggies, such as baby squash, peppers, chowchow, and bright relish.
- Fill out the spread with finely sliced sweet onion, jalapeño wheels, roasted garlic, kimchi, briny tapenade, or any of your favorite toppings. Try your hand at homemade ketchup (check out chef Edward Lee’s sun-dried tomato ketchup in the adjacent recipe). Set out mustard of varying intensity, from sweet to bold to hot.
- Add a palette of cheeses, from fresh feta to ripe Brie to sturdy Manchego.