As residents of Southern California, we don’t have to worry about the end of grilling season. As long as it’s not one of those 3 or 4 days a year that it actually rains here, grilling is a year-round activity. But for some reason, it always seems more important on those big three summer holidays, Memorial Day, Independence Day, and Labor Day.
And now that Labor Day is here again, you are probably stressing out about a big family get together that is going to be expecting something good to come from that new grill you got this summer.
So let’s not disappoint! Let’s make a meal that will be worthy of any cooking school in Los Angeles. We’ve put together a list of tips for cooking America’s favorite grilled food, the humble hamburger. It doesn’t have to be boring, though. Follow these tips to transform your burgers from boring to best.
7 Tips for Better Burgers
- Do not use frozen and/or pre-made patties
They may be convenient, but those frozen hockey pucks are no way to treat people that you like. Buy fresh, never frozen bulk meat and make your own patties.
- Don’t Go Lean
Ninety-two or ninety-five percent lean beef may be better for your waist line, but it is bad for taste. When it comes to cooking, fat is flavor. Buy 85% lean beef and thank me later.
- Bigger is better
Those nice looking ¼ lb. patties will shrink up to only two or three ounces by the time they are done cooking. Make your burger at least five or six ounces. If you need to feed big appetites, then go for the gold and make them eight ounces.
- Season well and season often
Salt and pepper are a burger’s best friends. Apply both very liberally, especially on larger patties. The only other spice you might need is a little dash of garlic powder.
- Cook At the Right Temperature
Your grill, gas or charcoal, should be plenty hot. High temps will deliciously sear the outside of the meat and give you those professional-looking grill marks.
- Don’t Fuss with It
Flip your burgers once and only ONCE. The more you flip the less even heat distribution there will be. Let the meat sit and soak up that smoke and heat. Four to five minutes per side and that’s it. And whatever you do, don’t, under any circumstances, smash your burgers. If you smash, you smash the moisture and flavor right out of them.
- Three Words: Bun, Bun, Bun
Don’t go to the bread aisle at the grocery and get a bag full of those mass produced, doughy looking, and flavorless things that pass for buns. Go to a bakery and get something made with love and attention. Artisan Kaiser rolls with sesame seeds are tops in our book.
Good backyard burger grilling doesn’t require a culinary school education. It does require, however, that you pay attention to the details just like you would in culinary school. Take time and care with your burgers and they will be boring no longer.
This article is presented by Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Los Angeles. Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Los Angeles offers culinary arts and pâtisserie and baking training programs in Los Angeles, California. To learn more about the class offerings, please visit Chefs.edu/Los-Angeles for more information.
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