How to Make Perfect Burgers

Don’t be intimated by making burgers if this is new for you.  The trick is to use the best meat, and to handle it lightly.  We like to use a combination of different ground meats, but all beef is always good too.  Just avoid extra fillers — they take away from the meaty burger flavor you’re after.  

About the size of your patties: People vary widely in the size and quantity of burgers they want to eat.  Generally, a 1/3lb patty is a full, hearty burger.  A 1/4lb or less is good for kids, or if you’re serving other meats as well.  And if you need to go larger…we understand. 

Serves 6-8

Defrost the meat

Defrost meat in refrigerator (put package on a plate). Transfer to large bowl and allow meat to come to room temperature. If using two kinds of meats, combine gently, taking care not to over-mix or squish.  It’s okay if your mixture has half-inch ‘chunks’ of the different meats — it doesn’t have to be completely homogenous.

Make the patties

Divide meat into 6 or 8 portions, depending on your desired patty size. (Smaller patties are easier to handle, but cook more quickly, so pay attention if you want them on the rarer side.) Gently shape into circles about 1.5” thick. Patties should be flat, or slightly concave in the middle to promote even cooking. Handle the meat lightly: overworking, squishing and forming will make a dense, chewy burger, which you don’t want. Don’t worry if the patties are not smooth on the edge: ragged edges means lots of nooks and crannies where great umami flavor can build.

As an alternative, consider kibbeh or meat cigars. Take a small handful in your palm and close your fingers around it gently to make an oblong shape. These will cook up in no time and can be tucked into pita with a riot of fresh salads and sauces for a very delicious alternative to traditional burgers.

Grill

Light grill and set up zones for direct and indirect heat. Grill patties for 2-3 minutes, or until meat is seared and releases easily.  Don’t try to pry them off if they don’t want to release — you’ll lose the sear and half the burger as well.  When patty releases easily,  flip.  Paint cooked side with BBQ sauce. Sear 2-3 minutes, then transfer to cooler side of grill to continue cooking (especially for larger patties).  We like a vinegar-based BBQ sauce that is not too sweet. Our homemade sauce combines red wine vinegar, ketchup, mustard, brown sugar, and tamarind paste – but when we can’t make our own, we love Mendel’s Kansas City BBQ Sauce.

Test for doneness: patties should not feel mushy (raw), but also should have some give to them. If they are hard, they are overcooked.

Top & Serve

Transfer to a plate or serving dish and tent loosely with foil. Serve immediately, with toppings!  There aren’t many things you won’t find on burgers these days. Here are some of our favorites:

  • Caramelized onions
  • Avocado
  • Leftover smoked meat (Brisket, Back Ribs, etc.) and/or Beef Bacon
  • Lacto-fermented Kimchi (from ADAMAH Farm) and pickles (like Bubbes)
  • Mayo, Ketchup, Mustard, Lettuce (they are part of the burger cannon for a reason!)
  • And if you want to indulge in your inner chef, a fried egg and arugula

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