Now that the weather is finally starting to warm up (fingers crossed, because in Canada, you never know!) you might be preparing to start grilling more often. But don’t rush out to your barbecue just yet! Weber’s Big Book of Burgers: The Ultimate Guide to Grilling Backyard Classics offers ten tidbits of advice when it comes to grilling in general.
1. Those who preheat well eat well.
Hold it right there – don’t place those burgers and sausages on the grates if they haven’t been preheated yet. If you start cooking with a cold grill, the food will stick to the cooking grates! So turn on the burners, put the lid down, and let the grill do its thing for 10 to 15 minutes, letting the internal temperature reach a toasty 500ºF.
2. Cleanliness is Grill-liness.
Unless you want scraps of last week’s dinner on tonight’s menu, you better clean that grill. After your grill is done heating up, scrape off the cooking grates with a stainless steel grill brush. If you don’t remove that black stuff, it will stick to your food, which will stick to the grates. Yuck!
3. Get it together, man!
Once your grill is heated and cleaned, bring out everything you need – tools, ingredients, seasoned foods, and sauces you’ll be using. Don’t forget to bring a clean platter for your cooked food. Running back and forth between the kitchen and the grill will probably lead to a disaster, so play it safe.
4. Play (heat) zone defense.
Thin burgers and small hot dogs will cook quickly over a direct heat, but sometimes you’ll find yourself cooking things indirectly, like with thick sausages or thick beef burgers – for those, a two-zone fire is the way to go. In the area with direct heat, you can brown your food and get some good grill marks, then pass over to the indirect heating system to finish roasting gently.
5. They just need some space.
All food cooks better on a grill if there is a little space surrounding it. This allows the heat to move up and around freely, and also gives you wiggle room for tongs or a spatula. Be sure to leave a small, clear space on the grill in case you need to move things to warmer or cooler areas.
6. Give a lid-dle.
The grill’s lid is more than just a cover! Leaving the lid on while cooking is integral – the heat inside provides a cozy and consistent temperature, which makes for better and more predictable results. Charcoal grillers: make sure to leave the lid open halfway! All fires need a bit of air to survive.
7. Hands off the merchandise.
If you put a cold burger patty down right away, it is bound to stick to the grill. If you try to flip a burger before it’s ready, it won’t come off smoothly, and remnants might end up sticking to the grill. But if you wait for about four or five minutes, there should be enough caramelization to be able to naturally lift the burger off the grates.
8. Keep the grill fires burning.
Once a charcoal fire reaches its highest temperature, it starts to lose heat. That rate is determined by the type and amount of fuel used, and your interference. You should refuel your fire every 45 minutes and move coals around to get your heat zone in order. Also remember to keep the bottom vent free of ash!
9. Know when to pull the rip cord.
Get your burgers and sausages off the grill at the right moment! This means knowing when your food is at the right temperature. Trust digital instant thermometers to tell you when your burger is ready.
10. Now, wait just a minute.
Let the burgers rest for a minute before eating – the juices will be absorbed back into the meat and it will taste so much better. On decadent days, slip a thin slice of butter on top of each resting burger and let the lusciousness seep inside.
Now that you’re prepped, why not test your skills with the following recipe:
Route 66 Burgers
PREP time: 15 minutes
grilling time: 8-10 minutes
⅓ cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons ketchup
1 tablespoon sweet pickle relish
1 tablespoon finely chopped shallot
1½ pounds ground chuck (80% lean)
¾ teaspoon garlic powder
¾ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 slices American cheese
4 hamburger buns, split
4 leaves Boston lettuce
1 ripe beefsteak tomato, about 6 ounces, cut crosswise into 4 slices
1. Combine the sauce ingredients.
2. Mix the patty ingredients, and then gently form four patties of equal size, each about ¾ inch thick. With your thumb or the back of a spoon, make a shallow indentation about 1 inch wide in the center of the patties to prevent them from forming a dome as they cook. Refrigerate
the patties until ready to grill.
3. Prepare the grill for direct cooking over medium-high heat (400° to 500°F).
4. Grill the patties over direct medium-high heat, with the lid closed, until cooked to medium doneness (160°F), 8 to 10 minutes, turning once. During the last 30 seconds to 1 minute of grilling time, place a slice of cheese on each patty to melt, and toast the buns, cut side down, over direct heat.
5. Build each burger on a bun with sauce, a lettuce leaf, a tomato slice, and a patty. Serve warm.
©2014 Weber-Stephen Products LLC. Recipe from Weber’s Big Book of Burgers™ by Jamie Purviance. Used with permission.