Friday, March 18, 2011

The ART and SCIENCE of Grilling Perfect Hamburgers with GrillGrates

I've opined about grilling perfect hamburgers before.  The quest of every grillers is to deliver that perfect, juicy hamburger to family, friends and guests.  Thousands of recipes, books, videos and websites honor the mouth-watering grilled hamburger. 

GrillGrate is adding a new chapter to this body of knowledge by elevating the art-from of grilling hamburgers to near perfection.  The results are visually dramatic with noticeably better taste.  I realize that is a bold statement.  It comes after 4+ years of near weekly practice and constant feedback and ratings from my family and my 85 year old mother-in-law who loves her hamburgers grilled rare.  This chapter is dedicated to you Jean!

Chapter One:  The formula for Grilling Perfect Hamburgers with GrillGrates:
  1. The MEAT of the Matter:  Grind your own round or sirloin for the freshest possible burgers.  80 / 20 is most common blend although GrillGrates allow you to reduce the fat content without sacrificing juiciness.  Turkey burgers will surprise you with their juiciness too.
  2. Treat Her Gently When you Patty Her!  Loosely formed patties allow juices to flow in and through the meat.  Forget the burger presses unless you are making a stuffed burger.
  3. Grill Hot and Fast with GrillGrates without Fear!  The added protection of GrillGrates tames the flames while still allowing that flame grilled flavor.  No need to set up hot and cold zones or move burgers around the grill.
  4. Lift and Twist (put don't press)  Get perfect steakhouse sear marks with the trick the restaurants use.  After 3 minutes, use The GrateTool and lift the burger and twist 45 degrees and sit the burger back down.  In 2-3 minutes, lift and turn.  The presentation side is now facing you and grill to finish.  Design your own sear mark patters by the angle of the twist.  Never squeeze out the juices no matter how tempting.
  5. Toast Your Buns!  Crispy on the inside? or the outside?  You choose.  Place bun halves face down to crisp the inside, OR leave the bun intact to crisp the exterior so that first bite to is crunchy crisp.
  6. Grab a Napkin- this is going to be juicy!
Here's to Grilling Grate Hamburgers with GrillGrate!


Larry said...

You didn't mention internal temperature for doneness. Do you cook them to 160 as Meathead from Amazing reccomends?

brad said...

Great question Larry. I don't use a thermometer on my burgers. I only started using a thermometer last year! Always used to wing it. I use one with steaks, chicken and pork but afraid to open a wound on a burger that leaks a ton of juiciness out. I go for timing and firmness. I err to the rare and the mother mother-in-law likes it nearly raw so I walk the line on doneness. Nothing worse than a dry overcooked burger which happens to me every once in a while when I get distracted and lose track of time.

Anonymous said...

Hi Brad,

Sorry to trouble you with such a trivial question. But I really screwed up. If you have another correspondent on you staff that can address my trivial questions please let me know.

There is no temperature/time recommendation for grilling hamburgers. The 3-b’s don’t provide a good procedure. Can you help me? My wife threw out the burger I cooked last night because I overcooked it. I tried to use the Blue Cheese stuffed recipe which is well documented.

Your procedure is so well documented for steaks but the information for burgers is somewhat lacking.

My steaks and pork chops have been magnificent. Thank you.

Thank you in advance for your help.


brad said...

I Vince,

Don't despair- I've had some challenges overcooking AND undercooking my stuffed burgers as of late. I attribute my failures to trying to hard and not timing the cook well enough. WIth stuffed burgers you don't have a meat center to get cooked so if you cook same amount of time as a regular burger it will be overcooked. So I've been overcompensating lately and undercooking our stuffed burgers. At least that can be fixed or it fixes itself if the burger sits a few minutes.

I am a timing guy with burgers- you CAN NOT use a thermometer as the burger will leak 50% or more of its juices. That is why people should NEVER flatten or press your burgers once they hit the grill. Back to the timing part. Regular burgers should take 15 minutes (fairly plump- we're not into little 1/4 pounders in our house) 7-8 minutes a side. If you are lifting and twisting do that at 4 minutes and turn at 7. Notice how 'black' the sear marks are. Really black- means you are hot and time will be shorter to the finish. If they are golden brown or less than add a minute or two. Cooking temps 450-500F at the GrillGrate is fine. More than that and you will have an overcooked outer layer and a raw to red center. By contrast, stuffed burgers will take just over 10-12 minutes to grill.I try to err to the rare and always take my mother-in-laws off 3-4 minutes before the rest as she likes it near to raw!

Perfect Hamburgers are harder to grill than a perfect steak because there is more finesse involved without a thermometer, and you really have to gauge it by time and grill temp.

Jaybo said...

It's sort of a joke in my family that I can grill anything to perfection -- except hamburgers. Now even that obstacle has been surmounted, thanks to my new GrillGrates. We had my daughter and her family for dinner last night and everybody raved about my burgers and new-found success!