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Burgers…An American Classic

As long weekends go, Memorial Day is one of my favorites. Normally we celebrate the unofficial start of summer with picnics, parades and fireworks, but I think this year, more than others, I am focused on the real purpose behind this national holiday. As a testament to the men and women who died in service for our country, we honor, remember and celebrate the freedoms we are afforded by their ultimate sacrifice. This is no ordinary year, and so we are reminded of the sacrifices people all around us make everyday to keep each other safe.

While it’s important to recognize the sacrifices so many are making, it’s also important to embrace the ordinary.  What traditions from Memorial Day can you still enjoy? We normally hang out together as a family and join up with friends and neighbors for a cookout or to go watch a parade. This year, we won’t be able to get together with friends in person, but we can still make the day fun and connect in other ways.

Let your imagination work to find ways to connect. Wouldn’t it be fun to create your own parade with the kids? Decorate bikes and hats, play marching band music and parade around the yard or neighborhood (socially distanced)!  Send a video of it to the rest of your family and friends. Share your favorite burger recipe and have a virtual cookout. I envision a Zoom page of all my family, near and far, biting into a juicy burger at the same time!

For as long as I can remember, Memorial Day meals are all about the burgers! I’m not sure why burgers are a classic menu item for Memorial Day gatherings, but maybe it’s because burgers are as all-American as apple pie or maybe, because it’s so nice to grill outside. It’s all good! We love burgers in our family and my gang is always ready to try a new variation, but still love a classic cheeseburger. True burger aficionados will get a little territorial about the process of preparing their burgers and the actual cooking involved. The term “special ingredients ” is thrown around when the chef is complimented on the delicious outcome! The good news is you can try over and over to get just the right flavor in your burgers all summer long.

 10 Tips to Grill Up Your Most Flavorful Burger:

1. High fat content makes a more flavorful burger

Yum, a nice and juicy burger is the goal. Ground beef higher in fat content will give you that juiciness. Go with ground beef that’s labeled around 20% fat (which means 80% lean) or more. If you use really lean ground beef, the burger may be drier. Note: if you like a burger on the rare side, then beef lower in fat will still hold its flavor. The longer you cook it, the drier it becomes.

2. Keep your lower-fat burger moist.

Ground turkey or lower-fat beef (fat content of 15% or less) doesn’t have as much flavor-enhancing fat, so they can be quick to dry out when cooking. Add a flavoring liquid — like soy sauce, Sriracha, or Worcestershire sauce, or water-packed veggies, such as shredded zucchini, diced mushrooms or onions,  to keep your burgers moist and juicy. You can even mix in shredded cheese for an even juicier cheeseburger!

3. Handle with care.

The amount that the meat is handled has a direct impact on the texture of the burger. When forming the patties, handle the meat as little as possible or it can become dry and tough. Wet your hands before you make each patty. This makes handling each one easier and adds a little moisture.

5. Season at the right time.

Season twice. When you first make the patties, add seasoning and fold into the meat. Skip the salt in that first seasoning mix. Salt can enhance the flavor but if added too early the result could be a denser, tougher patty. Just before cooking, season again. The flavor will be evident in every bite.

4. Give your patty a dimple.

When forming hamburger patties, press gently down in middle of the patty to form an indentation. This keeps the center from bulging up as it cooks, so the patty stays flat, even, and round. The juices will stay intact instead of running out of the burger.

6. Keep ‘em cold.

Return your patties to the fridge until you are ready to cook. This insures the fat in the meat is nice and firm. If they are room temperature then the fat melts away too fast to do its job.

7. Patience is key.

Flip once and only once. Yes, this takes patience! Don’t mess with your burgers or you will halt the searing process. In order to have the maximum amount of flavor, you want your burger to caramelize on the outside, which will only happen if it is left in direct contact with the heat source. Flipping too often will result in losing the juices.

8. Cheese please.

Add your cheese as soon as you flip the burger over. You don’t want to add the cheese once you think the burger is done. The time it takes for the cheese to melt will result in your burger being overcooked.

9. More patience needed.

Just like steak, letting your burger rest for a few minutes will ensure the juices settle in and don’t run out prematurely leaving you with a dry burger. This is a good time to “dress” your burger with all the fixin’s.

10. Juicy burgers are good, soggy buns not so much.

Choose a nice fresh bun and spread the bottom half with condiments that have fats, such as avocado, hummus or mayo. Then add a layer of lettuce and top the lettuce with the burger. This provides a barrier to the roll so it doesn’t get soggy. Then, add your other toppings,  such as ketchup, tomato, and pickles, etc .

 Ready to try a different type of burger?

Check out these recipes and shake it up!

Search for more burger recipes in your DinnerTime Recipe Box.  Bought extra ingredients at the market or cut from your own garden?  Add to your DinnerTime Pantry Manager and indicate to “use soon” for recipe recommendations in your next meal plan.  Your grocery list will show you already have this item in your pantry.

Shake it up with this tasty burger!

Juicy and full of flavor.

Surprise! A delicious version of a classic burger.