The Perfect Burger

Tina Miller, MS RD Meijer Healthy Living Advisor, www.meijerhealthyliving.com

Tina Miller 2011Fresh Ways to Build the Perfect Burger

Burgers are “hot” this grilling season and a few simple steps can make the difference between juicy, flavorful burgers and hockey pucks on a bun!  Top off your burgers with fresh toppings for the ultimate burger experience.

How to grill the perfect burger:

  1. Select the right meat:  A little fat helps keep burgers moist and juicy.  Since food safety guidelines tell us that ground meats and poultry need to be cooked to “well done” or 165⁰F, a little fat in meats helps to prevent a dry, tasteless burger (think “hockey puck” off the grill).  Many chefs suggest ground chuck that is 80% lean, 20% fat (80/20).  But a bit leaner, 85/15 grinds, create a delicious product with a bit less fat.
  2. Cook over high or medium high heat, and cook quickly to prevent loss of juices.
  3. When forming patties don’t overwork the meat or pack the patties too tightly.  Dense patties take longer to cook and dry out easily.  Form into patties that are all about the same size so that burgers cook evenly. I use a slightly rounded 1/2 cup nested measuring cup to scoop meat when forming patties—this helps to evenly divide meat.
  4. Once formed, make a small indentation on one side of the patty (this helps to prevent “bloating” in the middle).
  5. To reduce sticking, spray grill grates with nonstick cooking spray prior to pre-heating grill.
  6. Place burgers on the pre-heated grill.  Cook over medium-high heat for 5-6 minutes, turn and cook an additional 4-5 minutes, or until burgers are done.  Don’t press down on the burgers during cooking—this forces juices out.  Flip burgers only once; flipping encourages loss of juices and increases the chances of breaking burger patties.
  7. Burgers are done when juices are clear and internal temperature is 165⁰F.
  8. Add sauces or cheese during the last minute of cooking.
  9. Let burgers stand 5 minutes before serving, allowing juices to “set in”.

Fresh Toppings for Perfect Burgers

Whether you’re a meat eater or a veggie burger lover, these toppings will bring your backyard BBQ burger to life!   Make it even more interesting by experimenting with different breads and buns for your burgers.  Try Brioche (French) rolls, pretzel rolls, Naan bread, pita bread, and the always popular whole grain rolls.

Southwest Spice Burger:

Serves 4-6

4-6 Morningstar Farms® spicy black bean burgers

1 bag (10.5 oz.) Taylor Farms Southwest chopped salad

1 cup prepared guacamole such as Wholly Guacamole®

Burger buns (such as pretzel rolls)

Grill spicy black bean burgers according to package directions, toast burger buns.  Mix Southwest salad.  Spread bottom burger bun with guacamole, top with burger and then southwest salad.

Greek Goddess:

Serves 4

Topping:  Stir together (cover and refrigerate until serving time)

1/2 cup feta cheese

1/4 cup plain Meijer Greek yogurt,

2 Tbsp. fresh chopped parsley

1 tsp. lemon peel (zest)

1-2 cloves garlic, minced

Earthbound Farm® Easy Leaves Butter Lettuce

Grill four of your favorite burgers, such as Morningstar Farm Original Veggie Burger according to package directions.  Serve on toasted multi-grain bun line with butter lettuce and top with feta mixture, sliced cucumber, sliced red onion, and sliced ripe olives.

Awe-Inspiring Asian Burgers

Serves 4

4 burgers (veggie burgers or ground beef, turkey, or pork formed into 1/4 lb. patties; season with salt and pepper)

1/4 cup hoisin sauce

1 bunch green onions, ends trimmed

1/2 teaspoon sesame oil, plus more for brushing

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1 teaspoon Sriracha sauce

12 thin slices cucumber

Earthbound Farm® Zen Blend Greens

Directions

  1. Spray grill grates with non-stick cooking spray. Preheat a grill to medium high. Season burgers with salt and pepper and place on grill.  Cook 4-5 minutes, then turn and cook an additional 4-5 minutes (for meat/poultry grill until internal temperature reaches 165⁰F).  During the last minute of grilling, brush both sides of the patties with the hoisin sauce. Remove the patties to a plate and set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, brush the scallions with sesame oil, season with salt and grill, turning occasionally, until browned and tender, 3 to 4 minutes. Cut into 4-inch pieces. Toast burger buns.
  3. Mix the mayonnaise, Sriracha and 1/2 tsp. sesame oil in a small bowl and spread on the buns. Top the bun bottoms with Zen greens, sliced cucumber, burger patties and grilled green onions.

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