The sun is shining, your pits are sweating, and the lady-folk are wearing less and less clothes – summer must be here. And summer means BBQs for you to show off your culinary skills while manning an open flame. Burgers are so often done poorly – either store bought cardboard patties or over-the-top frankenstein creations – that a well executed burger will give your backyard fiestas legendary status.
Step 1 is to not overthink it. Don’t get crazy on your beef patty, get crazy on your bun and spread! You don’t need to mix in bacon or marinate for 48 hours in manatee tears, all you need is a high quality ground beef with between 20%-30% fat. Remember the classic chef’s mantra: fat is flavor. Add only course salt and lots of fresh pepper to the meat. When you form patties – by hand! – don’t beat them to death or violently squeeze them together. Instead, grab a handful of beef and gently pinch/pull the edges into a patty shape. The thinner you get the middle the better because when beef cooks, it shrinks. This kind of shrinkage will ensure your burger will not fall apart. And when you’re cooking it, for the love of god only flip it once! Your mother told you years ago not to manhandle your meat…
Now choosing a bun is akin to choosing the house your meat family is going to live in. There are different kinds for different burgers. With this kind of juicy, high-fat burger you’ll need something substantial that won’t fall apart in your hand. A pretzel bun is a great way to go, but any hardy loaf will do.
It’s time to let your personality shine with the spread. You’re going to do better than ketchup (catsup?) and mayo. You can go In-N-Out style, or Asian weirdness, but my personal favorite is a handmade garlic, jalapeno, and cilantro aeoli. Make your own mayonnaise – it’s much easier than you think – or grab a store-bought tub, then mix in chopped jalapeno, garlic, and cilantro until it has the bumpy consistency of oatmeal. You’ll be tasting garlic the next morning, guaranteed.
You can add cheese if you like, but it will likely be overpowered by the spread so we don’t bother. Instead, top it off with 2 leafs of a god bib or green leaf lettuce – never iceberg – and other veggies of your choice. You’ve just made a tasty burger that will make you the king of summer.
The Best Hamburger Recipe For This Summer:
2 lbs of ground beef with 20%-30% fat content
2 tbsp course salt
5 tbsp fresh ground pepper
1 head of green leaf lettuce
1 red onion
8 pretzel buns or ciabatta rolls
2 cups of mayonnaise (try making your own!)
1 bunch of cilantro
2 heads of garlic
Makes approx. 8 hamburgers
Evenly mix beef, salt, and pepper in a large bowl. Form approx 8 patties by grabbing a small handful of ground beef and pinching it apart until it is larger than your chosen bun by 1/2 inch in diameter (the burger will shrink down). Place patties on hot grill, flip only once when juices collect on the top. Cook to desired doneness, med-rare is recommended.
While meat is cooking, chop handfulls of cilantro and cloves of garlic, and remove the seeds from the jalapenos before chopping. Slowly mix in portions of these to your mayonnaise until it has a visibly chunky, oatmeal-like consistency. Squeeze in the juice from 1/2 a lemon to round out the flavor. Taste-test often to achieve your desired level of garlic. Squeeze in the juice from 1/2 a lemon.
When meat is finished cooking, butter the cut side of your buns and place on the grill. Place a soaking wet rolled-up towel in the BBQ with the buns and close the lid. This steam will ensure that the buns do not dry out. When the buns are blackened, remove and assemble your tasty burgers!