z5By Elke Probkevitz

Burgers are having their moment. Summer weather leaves us aching to step outside, fire up that grill, and eat family-style around a picnic table. What better way to have a laid-back dinner outdoors than to grill some burgers served up with all the fixings? Whether you like it traditional-style on a bun with ketchup or want to fancy it up with caramelized onions or a spicy aioli, make sure the burger is done right. Here are the basics for a great burger every time.

All about the meat. Make sure you buy good meat that’s fresh and has a good percentage of fat, about 20—30%. Cheaper cuts of beef like chuck and brisket are flavorful because of the high fat content and, although they are tougher, when they are ground they become perfectly tender.

Size it right. If you prefer a thin burger, a quarter pound (4 ounces) of ground beef is the right amount. A thicker burger will be half a pound (8 ounces). Some burgers are in between, at about a third of a pound. Whatever your preference, use a scale so all your burgers can be uniform and cook evenly.

Forming the patties. You must be careful with ground meat not to overwork it, or it will be dense and dry; but if you don’t work it enough, it will fall apart. Roll a ball of ground beef in your palms lightly, then gently push to flatten into a patty. Push your thumb into the center to form an indentation to help the burger hold its shape. Keep the meat cold.

Seasoning. Simply season well with salt and pepper. It’s all about the meat, so keeping it simple will only enhance the natural flavors instead of masking or overpowering them. To help get a nice caramelized exterior, season the patties once they’ve been formed instead of mixing seasoning into the meat.

Time to grill. Make sure you start with a clean grill so that food won’t get stuck to it. Preheat it, then grease it well. You can also oil the burgers themselves to keep them from sticking. Place burgers on the grill and leave them alone–don’t press on them! Touch the meat only to flip it once or twice until it’s done. v

Grilled Burgers


1½ lb. ground chuck or ground turkey

kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

1½ Tbsp. canola oil

4 hamburger buns


Preheat your grill to high. Divide the meat into four equal portions. Gently form into four patties and push your thumb into the center to indent. Season both sides well with salt and pepper. Brush the burgers with canola oil and grill on one side until grill marks have charred the meat, about 3 minutes. Flip the burgers and char the other side, 4 minutes for medium-rare or a little longer for medium.

Want to learn how to cook delicious gourmet meals right in your own kitchen? Take one-on-one cooking lessons or give a gift to an aspiring cook you know. For more information, contact Take Home Chef personal chef services by calling 516-508-3663, writing to elke@TakeHomeChef.net, or visiting www.TakeHomeChef.net.


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