Grilling Techniques for Perfect Fourth of July Cookout
It isn’t summer without cookouts and grilling. On any given night in the neighborhood, there are smells of the grill filling the air. Food and flame just go together, and keeping the mess and heat outside, helps keep the inside cooler too. It’s a win-win for summertime food and fun.
Grilling is easy, but there’s a ton of misinformation floating around, which can all dash visions of flame grilled tastiness. There are a few simple, fool proof grilling techniques that will turn the flame from foe to friend.
Grilling Techniques: No Fail and Foolproof
- For hamburgers, my number one grilling technique is to make three dents in the middle of the patties. This prevents the burgers from “ballooning” during grilling, which leads to a major grilling faux pas: smashing down the burgers – my second foolproof grilling technique.
- Don’t smash down the burgers! Pressing the patties down pushes out all the juices leaving you with nothing but dry, flavorless meat.
- For any grilled meats, flip only once – don’t make your vittles perform gymnastics. The extra action releases more juices into the fire, burning up the moistness and robbing the flavor.
- Don’t over season. Use great quality ingredients, keep it simple, and let the natural flavors be the star of the show. Basic salt & pepper go a long ways, work nicely with the natural flavors of foods, and won’t break the bank. Any seasonings or sauces with sugars should be reserved until the very end. BBQ sauce, teriyaki sauce, or my favorite, Root Beer BBQ Sauce, should go on right before removing the food from the grill. The sugar will only burn, and leave your food tasting like charcoaled hockey pucks.
- Let it rest! Meats all need to rest when they come out of the oven or off the grill. The resting period allows the juices to all come back to the center of the meat, so the flavors can mingle. Steaks, burgers, chicken – they should all rest for 5-7 minutes before cutting or serving.
Chef Bob’s Secret Recipe for the Perfect Burger
The key to a great burger, regardless of the protein used, is to start with quality ingredients and cook it properly. Use the freshest of ingredients, which require very little seasoning, and cook it the right way, by following these steps:
- Preheat your grill to approximately 500 degrees.
- While it is heating up, form your patties. Using your 3 middle fingers (pointer, middle and index) make 3 good-sized dents in the patty. These dents prevent the burger from “ballooning” during cooking, which encourages novice grillers to mash it down and release all the wonderful goodness.
- Season the patties with salt and pepper on both sides.
- When the grill is ready place the patties on it and grab a cold beer (or your beverage of choice).
- You will want to open the grill and admire them… DON’T!
- You will want to flip them so many times they will think they are a trapeze act…. DON’T!
- You will most definitely want to squeeze the precious juice from them…. Please DON’T!!
- Leave them be until the edges start to pull up from the grill–approximately 5 minutes for a 1/3 pound beef burger.
- THEN you can flip them…. ONCE!
- Close the grill and go get another beverage, they are almost ready. At the point when I flip the patties, I also do 2 other things: I add cheese if I’m using it, and I place the buns, that have previously been wrapped in foil, on the top shelf of the grill to warm up. I love toasty buns! I also add pre-cooked bacon, if I had the foresight to make it ahead of time.
- Like a great steak, the key to a juicy burger is to LET-IT-REST for 5-7 minutes so all the juices can come back to the center of the burger. Put them on a plate, loosely cover them with foil and make sure everything else is ready.
The Perfect Onion
Want my secret, super easy recipe for the perfect grilled onion… Email me for onion grilling techniques, and tips on picking the sweetest, most flavorful onions.
The grill is an excellent way to prepare many types of vegetables. I’m a huge fan of roasted red bell peppers, which get even sweeter and juicer on the grill. I’ll throw in my grilled red peppers recipe too, when you email me.
The History of Hamburgers
Curious about the origin of burgers… They are created to originating in Hamburg, Germany. Immigrants to the U.S. brought over the concept of chopping beef, seasoning it, and forming it into patties–known as Hamburg steaks, without a bun or bread. During the Industrialization period, workers needed faster food options. People were working longer hours, and had less time to prepare meals. This then brought about the birth of food carts. Since steak isn’t portable, or easy to eat standing up, bread was used to create a Hamburg sandwich.
Soldiers during WWI referred to Hamburg steak sandwiches as “Liberty Sandwiches” because they wanted to avoid reference to all things German. We’ve obviously moved beyond the negative emotions associated with the name, but I still think the name “Liberty Sandwiches” represents so much about what we love in Our Great Nation and the people who come together to support, embrace and love one another, in spite of all differences and beliefs.
Read more about the history of hamburgers on my guest author article on Bungalower: Food Du Jour With Chef Bob: Burgers.