- Cullman, Alabama


May 12, 2013

BBQ My Way: Tasty tips - Burger 101

Sellersburg, Ind. — As we move into the grilling and BBQ season, let's start off with a traditional selection, a grilled burger.

Now before you flip to the next page thinking you know all there is about grilling burgers, stay with me for a while. I'll even make it more applicable for most outdoor chefs by fixing these burgers on ... wait for it .... a gas grill. (Gasp!)

Last year during one of my talks about grilling, I asked those in attendance the following question.

How many here use a charcoal grill when grilling?  What do you think the results were? Three quarters? One half? Not even close. Zippo, zero, nadda. I was in shock. Those who grilled were using gas grills consistently. Armed with this knowledge I committed to writing more about gas grills.

In return, I ask that you now and then break out the kettle charcoal grill. Deal? Shake on it. Thank you.

Let's buy some beef. I like the 80/20 mix on ground beef. This means 20 percent fat. The fat delivers flavor and moistness, and on a gas grill, flames, unfortunately. With a kettle grill you can easily control flame-ups by simply putting the lid back on the grill, which limits oxygen. On a gas grill, putting the lid down does not have the same impact, as they are designed to allow airflow.

If gas were to build up in a gas grill without escaping, well, this could be a real problem. Manufacturers and the feds make sure this doesn't happen.

So, let's get started. Go get one pound of 80/20 ground beef. This will make four adequate burgers or three nice-sized burgers. Allow to come to room temperature in a mixing bowl for 10 minutes or so.

Add 1 1/2 tsp of granulated garlic (not garlic powder or garlic salt) and 1/8 of a cup of Worcestershire sauce. Mix thoroughly with your hands and form the meat into three or four balls.

Start flattening into a patty and make the center portion of the patty is thinner than the outside portion. This prevents the dreaded is this thing a burger or a lopsided meatball comment from your guests when the burger is cooked.

Place the patties on a plate covered with wax paper. Sprinkle both sides of the patty with fresh cracked black pepper and kosher salt.

As the paddies are being formed, allow the gas grill to get screaming hot. Thoroughly clean the grate with a wire brush. Turn the flames down to medium. Now, soak an old (and clean) cloth with olive oil and quickly run the cloth over the hot grates. This prevents sticking of the ground beef.

Place the patties on the grill, leaving the flames on medium. Now, let them cook without bothering them. Do not walk away from your grill! After a few minutes you will see juices collect in the depressed middle of the patty. This is where you earn your grilling stripes, so read carefully.

Turn off the gas entirely to one one of the exterior sections of your grill while leaving the other sections on medium heat. Flip the burgers. You will more than likely have flames galore. Relax. Don't freak out. Let the flames  kiss  the burgers for 60 seconds or so. Now, move the patties over the section that has no gas. Close the lid but stay with it. There may still be some flaming.

This allows the burgers to cook thoroughly without battling the flames and burning the outside of the burgers.

Once the burgers are cooked, turn off all fire. Place your cheese of choice on the burgers and close the lid, allowing the cheese to melt. Remember, ground beef is considered cooked at 160 degrees Fahrenheit.

You could also place the buns of your choice on the grill (flame on low) to toast them up a bit. For something different, use a whole wheat English muffin or those newer thin buns if you want to reduce carbs a bit. Load up with lettuce, dill pickles and sliced tomatoes. Welcome to the grilling season!

Dave Lobeck is a barbecue chef from Sellersburg, Ind., who writes a column for CNHI News Service. Visit his website at

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