Photo by Romulo YanesBy Bon Appétit
How to achieve burger nirvana? It's easier than you think. In fact, all you need to do is follow our simple guide.
The Meat: Fat Is Good (It's True!)
You want a burger packed with rich, beefy flavor and drip-ping with juice, right? Well then, you want--and need--fat. It's the source of all that messy goodness. So do two things: (1) Find a butcher you trust and order freshly ground chuck (stay away from the stuff that's been sitting around in a Styrofoam tray for days), and (2) ask for a ratio of 80 percent meat to 20 percent fat--the magic formula. It'll yield a juicy burger, but not one that triggers flare-ups when excess grease hits the coals. Memorize this ratio and you can't go wrong.
Read More: The Top 20 Best Tasting Burger Recipes
The Patty: Be Gentle
The less you handle the meat, the better--kneading is for bread. A loosely formed patty will be more succulent, more...luscious. To shape it, grab a handful of beef and form a round patty by gently turning the meat while cup-ping the edge with your palms; lightly press the top to flatten it as you go. Stop when you've got a 4" patty that's about 3/4" thick (six or seven turns). Burgers contract as they cook, causing the middle to push up into a dome. To avoid this, make a small indentation in the center of the patty with your thumb. This keeps the burger flat as it cooks. One more thing: Spatulas were made for flipping, not pressing on the patty. Hear that hissing sound when you do? That's all the flavorful juices dripping on the coals--they belong in the burger.
The Seasoning: S&P Are All You Need
Think about your favorite burgers, whether at In-N-Out or your neighborhood pub. The reason they're so good is simple: The cooks start with fresh, quality beef and then don't add much to it. No Worcestershire sauce, no onion, no egg (save that for meatloaf). As with steak, let beef speak for itself and allow the intense heat of the grill to draw out its natural flavors. The method: Season one side of a patty generously and evenly with salt and pepper. Grill it, seasoned side down. Then, before flipping, season the other side. Done.
The Cheese: Go All-American
You know that moment when American cheese reaches a molten, near-liquid state, seeping into the crags of the crisp patty, merging with the juices and special sauce? That's what you want. That's what everyone wants. So let the fancy-pants chefs crumble Roquefort on their burgers. You should keep it classic.
Read More: The Best Store-Bought Ice Cream
The Bun: We Say Potato
Squishy. Not a word typically used as a compliment. But that's what a burger bun should be. It should almost fuse with the meat--a moist, soft wrapper for the patty. We love potato rolls (available at any supermarket) straight from the bag. They're just sturdy enough to hold their shape, soft enough to let you appreciate the burger's texture, and a touch sweet, which is a great foil for the salty, savory beef.
Get our ultimate burger recipe: The BA Burger Deluxe
Photo by Romulo Yanes BONUS! Make Your Condiments Count
We'll say it again: Focus on great meat and the right seasoning, and this burger will deliver. If you want to dress it up, let these toppings do the work.
Tomato: We wait all year for juicy, peak-season tomatoes. Now's the time to indulge.
Special Sauce: When ketchup and mayo meld, well, magic happens. To taste what we're talking about, try our signature Special Sauce recipe.
Pickles: Briny, crisp pickles add pucker and punch to a rich burger. Skip the bread-and-butters-- they're just too sweet--and try a few classic dill slices instead.
Onion: Lay a slice or two of raw onion on the bottom bun before you put the burger on top. The fatty juices will run onto the onion and soften it just so.
Lettuce: Frilly green-leaf lettuce and other delicate greens go limp when they hit a hot burger. Stick with iceberg; it's got backbone and off-the-charts crunch.
More from Bon Appétit:
10 Snacks You Thought Were Healthy But Really Aren't
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25 One-Bite Appetizers
Junk Food Makeover: Healthier Chicken Nuggets
Photo by Romulo YanesBy Bon Appétit