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- Summer is just around the corner, which means we’re headed into the season of outdoor parties.
- To make your summer hosting a little easier, INSIDER asked chefs to share their favorite tips for cooking the perfect burger.
- With just a little seasoning and the right meat, you’ll be well on your way to making the best burgers without much effort at all.
- Visit INSIDER’s homepage for more stories.
Summer, the season of outdoor parties and grilled food, is just around the corner. If you’re hosting a party, you’ll probably want to make your guests everything from corn on the cob and kebabs to hot dogs and burgers.
But cooking the latter to perfection requires more attention to detail than you might think. To give you a head start, INSIDER spoke to chefs and asked them what it takes to make the best burger.
From shopping for the right meat to practicing a little patience, here’s what professional chefs recommend.
First, you have to pick out the right type of meat before you even begin cooking
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When it comes to shopping for ground beef, there are many choices. There are different cuts – like ground sirloin or ground round – with various lean-to-fat ratios (such as 90/10, 85/15, 80/20, and 75/25).
Chef Michael Ollier, senior corporate chef for the Certified Angus Beef ® brand, told INSIDER that his “go-to for everyday burgers is classic 80/20 chuck (80% lean, 20% fat, from the chuck).”
It’s essential to pack your burgers the right way
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Once you’ve picked out your meat, you’re ready to start forming your patties. There are several ways of going about this.
“For traditional hand-formed patties, gently flatten and shape cold ground beef, building a seamless edge while working a dimple in middle with your thumbs. The dimple will help keep the burgers from puffing up in the center as they cook,” Ollier said. “Or, for uniformity, gently press weighed-out portions of cold ground beef into a ring mold.”
You just want to be careful to not pack your burgers too tightly, according to Executive Chef Drew Adams of Bourbon Steak at the Four Seasons Hotel in Washington, DC.
“A loosely packed patty gives it more texture. The heat from your hands when constructing the patty can melt the fat – and you want a juicy burger,” Adams told INSIDER.
Keep the seasonings simple
It’s essential to keep seasoning very basic, according to Ollier.
“When you’re using premium beef, a generous sprinkle of kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper is all you need. That’ll enhance the burger’s natural flavors without masking or overpowering them,” Ollier said.
And the seasoning should be applied on both sides, Adams added.
Make sure your cooking surface is hot enough
When you’re ready to start cooking, it’s important to cook burgers on a hot cooking surface, Ollier said, whether you’re using a grill, griddle, or cast iron pan. If your cooking surface isn’t hot enough, that’s a recipe for a sticky ground beef disaster, he explained.
One way to ensure this is to use a thermometer. A meat thermometer is a great tool for beginners, and it’s great for gauging when you’re burgers are ready, Adams told INSIDER.
Be patient, but don’t overcook
Allow the burger to cook without over-management and without over-flipping. You can tell it’s ready to flip by certain signals as you’re cooking, according to Ollier.
“You should see [the patty’s] ‘shoulders’ surrender (i.e. the edges will start to soften and droop), and moisture beads will develop on top,” Ollier told INSIDER. “Knowing when to flip requires patience balanced with decisiveness.”
When they are ready, burgers should lift up easily from the surface with a spatula, Ollier said. If they stick, give them a little longer until they release. And whether you’re going for grill marks or all-over sear, you want to achieve a rich caramel color and not black (which would be overcooked), he explained.