1) The most common cuts for burgers are chuck, bottom round, and sirloin. Chuck is the best choice because the flavor is deeper and the cut is less expensive than the other two.
2) If you want a mouth-watering burger dripping with flavor and juice, then you need fat! Without fat, you have a tough, lean burger. Ask your butcher for 80% meat and 20% fat.
3) For more juiciness, add 2 – 3 tablespoons of water for every pound of ground beef mixture.
4) Be gentle forming your patty. Limit kneading. “A loosely formed patty will be more succulent, more luscious.” Grinding the meat affects the way it cooks.
5) All the seasoning a good burger needs is salt and pepper. Use fresh, quality beef and “let the beef speak for itself and allow the intense heat of the grill to draw out its natural flavors.”
6) For the bun try potato rolls – available at most supermarkets. They are a perfect marriage for the perfect burger because they are squishy, moist, soft but sturdy, and a touch sweet.
7) Soft, flabby greens seem to evaporate when they make contact with the hot burger. Firm iceberg lettuce holds its unyielding crunch every time.
8) Use your spatula for turning over, not squishing the patty. That hissing you hear is the mouth-watering juices disappearing into the coals.
9) Buy yourself an instant-read thermometer. A rare burger (120 F - 125 F) will be juicy and red at the center, but not all bacteria will be destroyed. A well-done burger (160 F) will be far less juicy, smaller, brown throughout, tough and completely bacteria free. Your best bet is a medium burger (150 F). It will still be fairly juicy and a shade of pink in the middle.
David Joachim and Andrew Schloss, “The Science of Grilling Burgers”, Fine Cooking, August / September 2012
The editors, “How To Build A Better Burger”, Bonappetit, July 2012
Photo: SpaceToCreate (flickr)