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Grilling the Perfect Burger
Provided by Grilling For Dummies
A grilled burger is probably the easiest and most commonly grilled food in America. Although your choice of burger meat is a matter of personal preference, some of the juiciest hamburgers are made with ground beef that is about 80 to 85 percent meat and 15 to 20 percent fat. This is about the ratio that you find in chuck - the best all-around cut for a perfect, juicy hamburger.
Grilling TipTry to mold the meat into a uniform, fairly flat patty, no thicker than 3/4 inch. A thicker patty, mounded high in the center, is less likely to cook evenly - though big, fat burgers don't taste half bad. And be sure not to press the patty with the flat side of a spatula as it grills, even though you may be tempted to do so. Pressing squeezes out the flavorful juices and can also cause dangerous flare-ups. (See Figure 1.)
Making a Perfect Burger
Figure 1: Making the perfect hamburger.
Preparation time: 15 minutes

Grilling time: 10 to 15 minutes

Yield: 4 servings


1-1/2 pounds ground chuck

1/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste

1/4 teaspoon pepper

4 hamburger buns

1. Prepare a medium fire in a charcoal or gas grill.

2. While the grill or coals are heating, combine the ground chuck, salt, and pepper in a medium mixing bowl, mixing lightly but thoroughly, using your hands. Shape the mixture into four patties, each 3/4-inch thick in the center and at the edges.

Even thickness ensures even cooking and prevents the edges from drying out before the center is cooked.

3. Place the patties on an oiled grill grid. Grill directly over the heat for 5 to 7 minutes per side for medium, less for rare to medium-rare, and 7 to 9 minutes per side for well done, turning once. Make a small incision in the center of each patty to determine doneness.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, all ground meat should be cooked to at least medium doneness - 160° - or until the center of the patty is no longer pink.

4. Toast the buns by placing them, split side down, on the edges of the grill grid for about 1 minute or until lightly browned.

5. Remove the burgers from the grill and serve on toasted hamburger buns.
Grilling TipBrush the grill grid with vegetable oil or nonstick cooking spray to prevent food from sticking to the grid. To avoid dangerous flare-ups, brush the grid before preheating the grill or igniting the charcoal.
Keep in mind that all grilling temperatures are only estimates. Variables - such as the intensity of your grill's heat, weather conditions, and the thickness of the meat - all affect the exact time it takes to cook your burger. To avoid overcooking, test the interior color of your burger. Do this by making a small incision with a thin knife in the center of the patty 1 or 2 minutes before you're done grilling.

Several grilling cookbooks recommend bringing ground meat to room temperature before placing it on the grill. Instead, keep ground meat in the refrigerator until just before grilling. This minimizes exposure to airborne bacteria. And always place cooked burgers on a clean plate. Never return them to the plate used to carry them to the grill because it may be contaminated with bacteria from the uncooked meat.

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