Classic Grilled Hamburgers
The Size of the Matter:
“Welcome to King Burger where we can do it your way…. but don’t get crazy.” – Bon Qui Qui, Mad TV
There are a few conversations with my husband that I avoid like the plague. How much we spend on groceries towards the end of the month. Little white lights. And sliders. You see, when Adam has an opinion about something, be it good or bad, it is a strong one (I know I’ve mentioned this before but it bears repeating) and he has a tendency to get a bit windy, going on and on about it without coming up for air. You may inherently understand the money issue, as most couples tend to occasionally disagree on finances. You may even be able to comprehend his aversion to twinkle lights, since they’re notorious for getting all tangled with some lights that work, while some don’t. But the sliders thing, you ask? [Deep breath, Cheryl.] Here goes.
Well, my darling husband, a.k.a. The Shameless Carnivore, thinks that any self-respecting meat eater should never, ever, be seen eating a teeny, tiny version of the Great American Classic. I am exercising censorship since he and Gordon Ramsey have a great deal of vocabulary in common, but suffice it to say he has some rather “choice” words to paint a picture of how much he despises the Slider and the wretched who partake of them. Although he says that it’s “okay” for a girl to eat them because we’re the “weaker sex” [please don’t send any hate-mails. He’s really joking and just trying to get a rise out of me]. But for dudes? “Wimps!” he says vehemently (remember, I’m embracing the G rating, here). Then he fires off a zinger in rapid Italian that I’m sure is not something that I would want him to translate, considering the accompanying dismissive hand gesture. He switches to English and says, “I’m sorry, but if you’re gonna have a burger, then have a [bleeping] burger (overemphasizing the word to make it sound bigger). He continues his harangue. “Not some pathetic excuse for a grilled meat sandwich that’s on every (pause), single (another pause) restaurant menu like sliders. Please,” he says with his face all scrunched up in disgust, “be a man and order the real deal! [Bleep!]”
I told you he scorns the Slider. I, on the other hand, love the Slider. You all know about my possible, nay – probable, need to enter a 12-step program for my unhealthy infatuation with all things tiny, miniature or in a single serving, right? So, of course I love the slider! Although I try not to take the bait (and, yes, he’s baiting me) and trip on his Big Burger Supremacy Rant, my loyalty insists that I defend the excruciatingly twee Slider. I retort and squeal with delight, in an effort to sway the jury. “But they’re so cute! Little tiny baby burgers! Come on! How can you not like them?” To this, he’ll usually say, “That’s because you’re a girl, and y’all like that kind of [bleep!] A man wants to be able to wrap his hands around a big, fat, juicy burger, not be cuted to death with something you can eat in one bite.” Wow! Why didn’t you just say so in the first place, my little Neanderthal, and let the poor Slider alone?
You can probably imagine the conversation that took place when we decided to do this recipe for you. When discussing how we wanted to shoot and plate them, I threw all caution to the wind, piped up and gushed, “Let’s do them as sliders!”
Guess what he said.
When I finally did get him to agree to do one shot as sliders (“NOT the lead shot, no way!” he demanded), he made me promise to put a disclaimer on this post. That the “slider shot” was done under duress. And with a colorful vocal protest by the photographer.
Now, I know that burgers come in all shapes and sizes with a myriad of meat and flavor profiles, exotic twists and gourmet garnishes. And, as much as I love them all, sometimes all you want is a classic, straight up, salt and pepper patty. Moist and juicy, tastes like summer to me, hot off the grill hamburger. Period. Apparently, size does matter to, um, some folks, so, how big you make your burgers is totally up to you.
- 2 pounds ground chuck
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- ¾ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more for the tops
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
- In a large bowl, combine the beef, salt, ¾ teaspoon pepper and 2 tablespoons olive oil. Mix until just combined, being careful to not overwork the meat. Using a light hand, shape the patties. Make an indention in the top of each one; drizzle with a little more olive oil; and add a few grinds of pepper right on top.
- Prepare a hot charcoal or gas grill. Grill the burgers for 4 to 5 minutes per side, depending on your degree of preferred doneness, flipping only once.
- Let the burgers rest, covered with foil, for five minutes before serving to allow the juices to redistribute.
Planning: Welcome to Burger U. Here are a few tips to help you make a better burger. Be gentle! The more you handle the meat, the tougher your burgers will be, so use a light hand when mixing. The indentation really is important to prevent your burger from doming and stay nice and flat. Flip the burgers only once and never, ever press down on them. Otherwise, you’ll press all those gorgeous juices right outta your burger and into your grill. That’s a bad thing. You can form the patties and refrigerate them for up to 6 hours. And, a tip from a chef friend: She says that keeping the patties cooled to the core will actually help them cook more evenly. So, keep the meat in the fridge until you’re ready to fire up the grill.
Product Purity: The old axiom that “fat equals flavor” really applies to your burger. I go with 80% or 85% lean ground chuck.
Presentation: For me, it’s all about the bun. And, I can’t stand a soggy one – so don’t leave the meat on too long before serving and eating. Set out platters of lettuce, slices of ripe tomatoes, thinly sliced red onions, pickle chips, ketchup, mustard and mayo for a build-it-yourself burger bar, one of my all-time favorite summer get-togethers.
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