From Mastering The Grill
What makes a burger great? Let us count the ways. The meat must be flavorful, the fat content sufficient but moderate, and the seasoning apparent but not overt. The patty has to hold together but not be compacted. The bun should be soft enough so that it does not require greater biting pressure than the contents it holds, but not so fluffy that it soaks up burger juices like a sponge. The cut surface of the bun must be toasted, and the garnishes should be kept simple: the cheese barely melted, vegetables cold and crisp, and condiments applied by the eater, not the cook. If all these guideposts are met, you shall never eat better, my son.
Direct heat–medium-high (425° to 450°F)
Clean, oiled grate
Direct heat–light ash
12-by-12-inch charcoal bed (about 3 dozen coals)
Clean, oiled grate on lowest setting
Direct heat–light ash
12-by-12-inch bed, 3 to 4 inches deep
Clean, oiled grate set 2 inches above the fire
Grill Tools and Equipment
Prep: 5 minutes
Grill: 7 minutes
Makes 6 servings
© 2021 Andrew Schloss / Chronicle Books · Reproduced with permission.
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Heat the grill as directed above.
Using your hands, mix the beef, water, ketchup, salt, and pepper in a bowl until well blended; do not overmix. Using a light touch, form into 6 patties no more than 1 inch thick. Refrigerate the burgers until the grill is ready.
Brush the grill grate and coat it with oil. Put the burgers on the grill, cover, and cook for 7 minutes, turning after about 4 minutes for medium-done (150°F, slightly pink). Add a minute per side for well-done (160°F).
If you are making cheeseburgers, put 2 slices of cheese on each burger 1 minute before the burgers are going to be done.
To toast the buns, put them cut sides down directly over the fire for the last minute of cooking.
If serving the burgers directly from the grill, serve on the buns. If the burgers will sit, even for a few minutes, keep the buns and burgers separate until just before eating.
Wet your hands with cold water when mixing the meat and when forming burgers. It will keep the meat from sticking to your hands.
If using ground beef that is more than 85 percent lean, brush the surface of your burgers with oil before grilling to keep them from sticking and to help them brown.
How well done you like burgers is not just a matter of taste. While roasts, chops, and steaks can be cooked to rare without raising food safety fears, burgers cannot. It is simply not safe to eat burgers cooked to less than 150°F. (For a full discussion of meat safety, see page 000.) At that temperature, a burger will be very slightly pink in the center and will feel springy to the touch. For a precise temperature reading, insert an instant-read thermometer through the side of a burger into its center.
The best garnishes are classic: a slice of ripe beefsteak tomato, a mound of sautéed onions, a leaf of romaine lettuce, a dollop of coleslaw, or a few slices of dill pickle.
Try substituting kaiser rolls (or another crusty round roll) for hamburger rolls.