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Crafting the Perfect Burger: Recipes and Ingredients to Try

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Nothing says summer quite like a backyard barbecue with friends and family, and no barbecue is complete without hamburgers. Maybe you could eat a classic cheeseburger everyday, or perhaps you prefer a burger packed with nontraditional ingredients. Whatever the case, there's no reason not to spice things up this summer and try out a new burger creation. Here are a few ideas:

 

  • Think tacos -- Love Mexican cuisine? Throw on some grated cheese, avocado, beans and shredded lettuce. If you're feeling really adventurous, add some rice, or mix some salsa into the burger meat. Don't be afraid to top it off with a spoonful of sour cream!
  • Load up the veggies -- Pile your burger high with sautéed mushrooms, onions or scallions, roasted Brussels sprouts and diced tomatoes. 
  • Try a different type of cheese -- If your go-to cheese has been cheddar for, say, the last 10 years, switch it up for muenster, pepper jack, mozzarella, Swiss or Colby. Feta's a great choice, too, especially if you throw on some Greek olives (two perfect toppings for those who prefer the turkey burger!).
  • Alter the basics -- Maybe you just can't fathom a burger without bacon and cheese. If that's the case, step outside the box by trying a new condiment or two. Instead of regular old Hellmann's, go with horseradish mayonnaise; yellow mustard instead of spicy brown; or event caramelized onions instead of raw ones. You'd be amazed at the different flavors you'll achieve with just a few slight adjustments. If you're in the mood for something really different, go with a spread. Bull BBQ recommends a few great ones--from Chipotle ketchup to bourbon and brown sugar mustard to a yogurt-based topping with chili paste--all available here.

 

Looking for more ways to improve your burger? 

 

Stop by a bakery and pick up some just-baked rolls. Serve them fresh and soft or lightly toasted for a subtle crunch. If you have the time, homemade buns are always a fantastic option. There are plenty of great recipes out there, like this one from Mother's BBQ.

 

Do your research when it comes to your meat selection and visit a local farm, instead of the supermarket, to pick up your ground beef. Or, if you have yet to use the grinder attachment on your Kitchen Aid mixer, pick up a number of different cuts and grind it yourself. There are so many choices and combination possibilities, including chuck, sirloin, boneless short rib, top round, brisket and even lamb or pork shoulder. 

 

Remember, experts recommend your burger be about 80-percent meat and 20-percent fat. They also suggest making an indent in the burger patty with your thumb (to make sure the burger keeps a nice shape while cooking), warming up the grill in advance so it reaches a very high temperature, and flipping the burgers just once. And always resist the urge to flatten the burgers with the spatula! You will lose all those flavorful juices.

 

With all the preparations centered around toppings, buns, meat cuts and more, there is a lot to think about if you're looking to perfect your burger. There is one last thing you should consider when planning your next burger meal -- the sides! Keeping in mind how bold and delicious your burger will be, you may want to keep it simple. So try a great pickle (your neighborhood farmer's market may have a pickle supplier whose options far exceed those at the supermarket!) and coleslaw (pick this up at your favorite deli or find an easy recipe online).

 

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