It’s the fourth and final week of Gather Round the Grill here on Neighborfood. I can’t believe how fast it’s gone by! So far, we’ve explored Cookout Sides, Cookout Main Dishes, and Cookout Desserts, but there’s still one big, giant elephant in the room we’ve been avoiding.
Where the heck are the burgers???
Well, friends, the wait is over. This week is all about the beloved burger. In 5 days, you’ll be armed and ready with recipes to satisfy all your cookout guests, starting off with an All American Classic: the Bacon Cheeseburger. I know you don’t want to be stressing out on Memorial Day weekend scouring cookbooks for the perfect burger recipe. You want to be kicking back, enjoying a cold drink, and relaxing with friends. Don’t worry. I’ve got you covered.
Let’s talk about the perfect, classic, All American burger.
I know, I know. Everyone’s perfect burger looks a little different. Some like it with ketchup and mustard. Some like it with mayo. Some like Swiss, some like Cheddar. Some smother it an egg, some smother it in onions and mushrooms.
But in my opinion, there are some things every burger should be.
Juicy. Tender. Flavorful. Cheesy.
Always, always, always cheesy.
It totally blows my mind when someone chooses a hamburger over a cheeseburger. These people and I operate on entirely different wave lengths. We might as well be from different planets. In my world, if you have an option between cheese and no cheese, you always choose cheese. Always.
This is my ultimate classic burger. The secret to keeping it tender and juicy? Using a good fatty beef (80/20 is my go-to), not handling the beef too much when you’re preparing it, and never, I repeat never!, squishing the beef with a spatula while it’s grilling. The goal is to keep all those tasty meat juices in, not squeeze them out!
These burgers are seasoned simply with a little garlic, Worcestershire, onion powder, salt, and pepper. You won’t find any eggs or breadcrumbs here. Save that for the meatloaf. Burgers are all about pure, juicy beef.
And cheese. Melted cheese.
Did I mention the necessity of cheese?
Cheddar is the obvious choice, of course, but I love to use multiple cheeses as well. Sharp cheddar with Muenster is to die for.
When it comes to topping a classic burger, you can’t go wrong with a big, fat slice of tomato and a crisp leaf of lettuce. I also like to add a couple rings of red onion for bite. In my opinion, pickles have no place on a burger, or anywhere near my mouth for that matter. But I suppose that if for some reason you think those vinegar-drenched, shriveled cucumbers are edible, you could put those on there as well.
A few slices of bacon elevate a cheeseburger from great to OMG, I LOVE AMERICA!
Grilling the buns is unnecessary, but definitely worth the extra effort.
My perfect burger is finished with a mix of ketchup and mayo and a glass of sweet iced tea. I’m getting hungry just thinking about it.
What makes up your perfect burger?
- 6 slices bacon
- 1 lb. ground beef
- 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- 1 Tablespoon Worcestershire
- ½ a red onion, sliced in rings
- 3 leaves of lettuce
- 3 thick slices of tomato
- 3 slices cheddar cheese
- 3 buns
- Preheat your grill to high heat.
- Cook bacon in a large skillet until crisp. Remove to a plate and allow to drain.
- Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine beef, salt, pepper, garlic, onion powder, and Worcestershire sauce. Use your fingers to mix it together. Try not to be overly aggressive here. The less you handle the beef, the more tender it will be.
- Shape beef into 3 equal sized patties, the same diameter of the buns you'll be using. Put a small indent in the center of each one (this keeps them from puffing up too much in the middle!)
- Place burgers on the grill and grill for 3-4 minutes on each side for medium burgers, and 4-5 for medium well-well done burgers. Try to flip only once if possible, and whatever you do, DO NOT press the burgers down with your spatula. You'll press all those great juices right out of the burger!
- When there are about 2 minutes left on the cooking time, add your choice of cheese to the top. To check for doneness, you can slice a small slit in the top. Medium rare burgers should be slightly pink in the middle. Well done burgers should have no pink remaining.
- Remove burgers to a plate and allow to rest for a few minutes to allow the juices to redistribute into the meat.
- Serve on buns with lettuce, tomato, red onion, bacon, and your choice of condiments.