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A FRESH Point of View: Burgers 101

Burgers are an all time favorite summertime meal, cooked to perfection on a charcoal or gas grill with crisp fresh vegetables and the perfect cheese and condiments. Over the past couple of years there has been what I consider a “burger revolution” with burger joints popping up all over the place and celebrity chefs building burgers with all types of innovative ingredients and toppings.

Me, I guess you could say that I am a traditionalist. I believe with the perfect ingredients, even the most basic burger can be amazing. And in the spirit of getting back to the basics, I thought I would share some tips and tricks for creating the perfect burger. From buying beef, forming the patty, and cooking it to perfection, here are some tried and true rules to follow:

When choosing your ground beef, look for meat labeled “chuck” or “sirloin”. That will tell you that most of the beef in the package comes from that specific cut unlike generically labeled “ground beef” which can come from any part of the cow and can result in inconsistent flavor and texture. Sirloin is leaner (10% fat maximum) and requires less cook time while chuck can be up to 20% fat. I prefer chuck for a juicier burger. Alternatively, you can have one of our market freshies grind up your favorite cut.

The easiest way to form the perfect patty is to divide the ground beef into 6-ounce portions and create a ball. Flatten the ball to about 3/4 of an inch thick. In 1/2 an inch deep. While this sounds like an unimportant step, it really works.

Of course, grilling is a delicious method of preparation but let’s face it, it’s HOT in Texas at this time of year! If you don’t want to brave the heat, try pan-frying or broiling your patties. Place the patties in the skillet or broiler pan, indention side up, and cook for roughly 4 minutes per side, depending on doneness preference.

As for toppings, the sky is the limit. You can experiment with any cheese that you like, from cheddar to blue to havarti. Don’t just stick to sliced cheese either – buy a block of artisan cheese from our FRESH cheese department and grate it up. Or better yet, purchase some of our chef prepared pimento cheese, traditional or chipotle flavor) and spread it over your burger. If you’ve had a pimento cheese slider at our 801 Grill, you know just how good that can be!

For the veggies, a healthy and flavorful addition for summer is ripe avocado slices. We also have a very large variety of greens that you can place atop your burger. Don’t fall back on iceberg lettuce! Try spinach, arugula or even a coleslaw mixture.

I love mustard and ketchup (did I mention I am a traditionalist?) but you can put all types of condiments on your burger to add flavor. BBQ sauce, Salad Dressings such as Green Goddess or even one of our FRESH made hummus varieties are great things to try as an alternative to mayo, mustard and ketchup. Try pickled jalapenos in place of dill pickles or roasted red peppers in place of tomatoes.

I hope that some of my tips and ideas will help you the next time you set out to build the perfect burger.