Sometimes the simplest things are the hardest to get just right. Anyone can grill a burger, right? But how do you make a brilliant burger? That is a question I answered in “Weber’s Big Book of Burgers” (available April 1, 2014). There are several details involved, but it all starts with the meat.
If you buy “hamburger” at the store, I’m afraid you are setting yourself up for disappointment, because it can have almost any kind of beef in it. Quite often the meat is ground from the scraps of several different cows. After all the succulent steaks and plump roasts have been trimmed and set aside, butchers throw the scraps, including fat scraps, into a grinder for hamburger meat of uncertain quality.
Do yourself a favor and look for “ground beef” instead (by law, it can’t include any fat scraps). If it is packaged in a foam tray, that’s not ideal, but you can still make great burgers with it, provided the meat hasn’t been compressed too much. Ultimately you want to bite into a burger with a loose, tender texture that spills plenty of beefy juices. Once the meat has been compressed, it will never be loose again. So pick up a package where the beef looks like strands of thin rope. In other words you should see a clear pattern, not a mishmash of beef and fat. Now you are off to a great start. For more steps to burger brilliance, plus 160+ recipes for backyard classics, check out Weber’s new cookbook.