Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Recipes and Food

May 31, 2012

Burger boot camp: Here's how to get 'em right

— I have a good friend who is a regular reader of my column. He said something that I have heard on occasion from other readers via email. “Dave, almost every article you do is for charcoal. I don't do

charcoal, I do gas.”

Tex, (that's my friend's name) this article is for you and all those grillers who have not yet taken the leap to a charcoal grill. We are going to discuss the basic, classic, grilled burger.

When outdoor cooks attempt to make a grilled hamburger, the end result can be less than desirable.

Many times the burger resembles an oddly shaped meatball, crusty black on the outside and

undercooked on the inside. That's a problem waiting to happen. If you follow the basic skills outlined in this column, you will say “good-bye forever” to the oddly shaped grilling embarrassment.

1. The first step is to buy good ground beef. Too lean and the burger will be dry. Too much fat and you will have severe burger shrinkage and a possible fiery inferno on you hands. What you are looking for is 80 – 20, meaning 20 percent fat content.

2. This could be the most important step. After seasoning the beef with your favorite spices (personally I stick to salt, pepper and a little Worcestershire sauce) create a ball barely larger

than a baseball. This should be around 1/3 of a pound. Do not squeeze it together too tightly.

Flatten it out on a cutting board to the shape of a normal burger. Now, make the middle one

third of the burger thinner than the outer two thirds of the burger. The reason you do this is while cooking, the meat pulls inward, which is why most people end up with a meatball.

You can see this technique at Once you get there, search for


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