Creating the right blend:
• Find a trusted butcher -- one with a reputation for grass-fed beef or organic farmer.
• Herbs and spice mixtures in the form of dry rubs and olive oil-based pastes not only flavor the food, but help form a savory, caramelized crust that holds in the juices and keeps it tender.
• Vegetables need to have a coating of oil to keep it from drying out. Still takes on a crunchy texture but maintains the tenderness on the inside.
• Keep meat cold prior to forming the burger patties.
• Avoid too much handling, as it can affect the texture of the meat.
• Keep patties uniform in size by using the same measurement tool as a benchmark, such as an ice cream scoop, etc.
• To form patties: use a burger press [available at most kitchen supply stores] or 2 pieces of plastic wrap to cover burger, then slowly flatten with a small pot or pan.
• Four to 5-oz. burgers [pressed thin and flat approximately a 1/2 inch thick] are an ideal size and shape as it allows the meat to caramelize in its own fat and cook quickly.
• When using a charcoal grill, place the coals on one side so they slope downward toward the center. This will give you one zone of the grill that is very hot (for “direct heat” cooking) and the other zone can be used for slower cooking (or “indirect heat” cooking).
• An open grill can produce a smoky flavor, giving it an added earthiness to the overall taste.
• By cooking on the grill, there is danger of losing essential fats and juices.
• Flat-top grilling allows you to cook your meat in its own juices, retaining fat and flavor. This type of cooking is quicker than grilling on an open grill and takes less prep time. It offers a different flavor and texture and caramelizes the meat.
• Regardless of your preferred cooking method, make sure your cooking surface is very hot. The meat sears faster and limits the loss of essential fats.
• How many times should you flip your patties? I’m opposed to over-flipping, as you don’t want to lose the juices of the item you’re cooking.
• Season right before putting on the grill. Use kosher salt, and add a little more than you normally would to bring out the flavor of the beef.
Building the Fire:
• Allow enough time for the charcoals to get to their peak of being hot -- average time is about 25-30 minutes before cooking.
• Gas grills take 10-15 minutes.
• Use: Organic coal
• Don’t use: Anything with added chemicals.
• Do not squirt water on flare-ups of fire. It cools down the coals and ashes start to form. Just move the protein to a different area.