We’ve all been to the barbecue where the burgers cooking on the grill smell delicious, but then, when it’s time to eat, you’re faced with a platter of hockey pucks. You pile on all kinds of condiments and vegetables to make it palatable, but still, that gray, tough, dry chunk of meat lurks at the center.
It’s not hard to make a great burger, but it takes a little care, from the time you buy the meat until you take it off the grill. By following a few basic tips, your grass-fed burgers will be the envy of your grilling neighbors.
Choose the right meat.
Start with good meat and the right fat percentage. Panorama Organic’s grass-fed, organic 85/15 blend is the perfect ratio of meat to fat. If you go too lean, your burgers will be dry. Adding an egg to the mix will give you a tad more moisture for the perfect level of juiciness.
If you’re starting with frozen ground beef, never thaw it in the microwave. Ideally, you should defrost it in the refrigerator for a day. In a pinch, you can let the package sit in a bowl of cold (not warm) water until it thaws, changing the water several times.
Don’t overwork the beef.
Blend it gently with your hands just until the seasonings are incorporated. Too much mixing will make the burgers tough. The same rule applies when you’re making the patties. Don’t overhandle them. Also, wet your hands with water so the meat doesn’t stick.
Make a dimple in the middle of each patty with your thumb. This will help keep the shape of the patty as it cooks.
Chill the patties before you start cooking.
Unlike most meats that should be at room temperature before you put them on the heat, burgers should be as cold as you can get them without being frozen. They cook more evenly with less shrinkage and they hold together better.
Use high heat and a meat thermometer.
With grass-fed, it’s easy to overcook because it cooks quickly. Using an instant-read thermometer will help you keep from overdoing it. For medium rare, the perfect combination of pink and warm in the middle, the internal temperature should be 130 degrees F.
Flip as many times as you like.
The burgers cook quicker and more evenly. And don’t press on the patties with a spatula while they’re cooking. That squeezes all the juice out and makes them dry.
Cook them in a cast iron pan on the stove.
If there’s snow covering your grill, don’t fret. Cast iron holds high heat evenly and the flat surface allows the burgers to cook in their own juices. Just make sure to turn on your exhaust fan.
Give them time to rest after they come off the heat.
Cover the platter with foil and let them sit for at least ten minutes while you toast the buns and get the rest of the condiments ready. That allows the juice from the surface to migrate back into the center of the meat.