Nothing says summer like grilling out burgers in your own backyard. This summertime staple, found at barbecues throughout the country, are the quintessential American dish. Much like its barbeque counterpart the hot dog, burger grilling offers a myriad of culinary possibilities for chefs of all experience levels. If you’re looking to up your backyard burger game this summer, it’s time to put in the work. From proper grilling techniques to serving up the perfect side dishes, there are plenty of ways in which you can take things up a notch and become the block’s burgermeister.
The first step in preparing for your barbeque burger blast is deciding on which type of patty you’ll be tossing on the grill: frozen, pre-prepared burgers or handcrafted patties. While it may be tempting to just pick up a box of burgers at the store, the fact of the matter is that a homemade burger simply tastes better and is way better for you. Creating your own burger is not nearly as difficult as it sounds. Stick to meat with a higher percentage of fat for an extra juicy, extra flavorful burger. Be aware that the patties will shrink while grilling, so don’t be afraid to make your patties on the larger size.
At’s a Spicy Tomato!
When it comes to seasonings, you can go classic salt and pepper or blow the doors open on the spice cabinet. Throw in some dried basil & oregano, granulated garlic & onion, and top it with mozzarella and you’ve got an Italian flavor. Take out the basil, add lemon, and top with feta and you have a Greek burger. Or go all 1970’s and put a packet of Lipton’s onion soup mix. Dee-lish. Make sure not to overwork the patties to ensure that the flavor is evenly distributed or they can turn rubbery. A little fork work to separate the ground meat can help spread the flavor around before you put your hands in.
Once your patties have been prepped, it’s time to form them. You can buy a burger mold that will help you make uniform patties in a jiffy. This also aids in the “don’t overwork the burger” category. Remember that once they hit the grill they will shrink. So once you take them out of the mold, push down gently in the center in an even manner around the burger so the outer edge is fatter than the center. This will allow for the burger to shrink without getting fat in the middle. Now your burgers are ready to hit the flame – just be sure to take off your grill cover first!
Grilled To Perfection
The key to a perfect burger lies within the grill itself. No matter if you are using a gas grill or a charcoal model, there are a number of steps you can take to ensure that your burgers are juicy, thoroughly cooked, and ready to be enjoyed by your guests in your backyard living room once you’ve removed your cushion and pillow covers. Here are a few pointers for grilling burgers that are far from “blah”:
- Your grill requires maintenance to ensure that it runs smoothly. Keeping it clean is the most important part and starts with keeping the grill covered when not in use. Always brush down your grates with a wire grill brush and wipe with oil. A clean grill keeps patties from sticking and prolongs the lifespan of your grill.
- Temperature plays a huge role in grilling the perfect burger. While your first instinct may be to turn the temperature all the way up to ensure the patties cook quickly and all the way through, grilling experts recommend sticking to a medium heat for the best results. If the grill is too hot, the outside of your patties will burn and crisp while the inside will not be cooked through. If it’s too low, you won’t sear the outside and the juice will run out.
- Keep your flipping to a minimum- one flip is enough to ensure that your patties are fully cooked and will have those highly-coveted grill marks.
Everyone has their own favorite burger toppings. For some, classic cheddar cheese, lettuce, and tomato makes a perfect burger. For others, more unique culinary toppings such as bleu cheese or a fried egg do the trick. No matter how diverse your guests’ tastes may be, it’s important to make sure that everyone has a wide variety of choices to pick from when customizing their burger. Ask each of your guests ahead of time about their topping tastes, and stock up on all of the ingredients you’ll need for their perfect patty. Got friends and family who are open to anything? A toppings bar is a great way to experiment and give your guests something new to create their own burger masterpiece. Your backyard barbeque will no doubt stand out from the average grill out when you go all out on the toppings. Bacon relish, pickled radish, and garlic stuffed olives sliced thin are just a few ideas.
Burgers may be the main event but the supporting sides are just as important. French fries are the classic companion to the burger and are a cinch to whip up in the kitchen. You can even opt for sweet potato or zucchini fries to keep your fry selection diverse and exciting. You can do the classic picnic-style ‘cue and have some potato salad & coleslaw. Baked beans are a classic. Get your everyday baked beans from the supermarket then add some mustard, molasses, and carmelized onions. Let it simmer and voila – your new take on and old favorite. If you’re looking for a healthier option, serve up a fresh Greek orzo salad that is just as tasty as it is good for you.