Guy Fieri has traveled across the country eating the biggest and best burgers for years on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. Now fans get to choose their favorite by voting in the poll below. Need a refresher? Browse through the photos in this gallery of the 15 best — your top picks will be featured in an upcoming episode of Triple D.
While burgers are one of summer’s quintessential dishes and an ever-popular pick at backyard barbecues everywhere, cooking the ultimate between-the-bun creation takes patience and a bit of know-how. It’s not enough to simply slap some meat into a patty, flop it on the grill and melt cheese on top, as doing so has likely led to sorry results at least once or twice — or more. The kind of meat you buy, plus how you form the patties and the way in which they’re cooked all contribute to the overall taste and texture of the burger. Check out a few of Food Network’s top tips below for crafting a perfect burger at home, then browse step-by-step snapshots to learn more about how it’s done.
Fat Equals Flavor:
You may want to save the calorie-trimming for another meal, because making burgers isn’t the time to skimp on fat in your ground beef. Opt for ground chuck blended with about 20 percent fat (this will likely be advertised in stores as an 80/20 mixture), and season it simply with just salt and pepper to allow the taste of the meat and char to shine through between the bun.
How many times have you formed a seemingly flat beef patty only to have it dome up while cooking? Prevent those humps and turn out level burgers every time by pressing your finger into the center of one side of the raw patty before it’s placed on the grill. That indent will account for the growth in height while cooking and ensure the final product is even.
This summer, Food Network’s Grilling Central is packed with recipes for the entire family’s taste buds, boasting the best in burgers, dogs, chicken and more all season long. But with so many recipes, where do you start? Each Friday, FN Dish is giving you a complete menu that is stress-free, and this weekend’s spread features nontraditional burgers made with chicken and seafood.
Traditional beef burgers are, of course, a summer classic, but when the old standby proves predictable and perhaps even boring, it’s time to look to other between-the-bun creations to dress your grilling menu. Swapping in ground chicken, turkey or pork instead of everyday beef delivers the same meaty bite you’re used to, but it also offers new tastes and textures. Seafood, too, works well in patty form, especially when you pair it with complementary toppings.
Food Network Magazine lets family-friendly fish shine in its Perfect Salmon Burgers, a top-rated dish made moist and flavorful, thanks to a binding mixture of mustard, mayonnaise, lemon juice and breadcrumbs. Serve these dressed-up fish sandwiches as you would a seafood dinner: with a topping of creamy tartar sauce for the most tried-and-true taste.
Hot Tips From Food Network Kitchens’ Katherine Alford:
Don’t let extra burger buns go to waste: Use them as a binder for chicken or veggie burgers, meatloaf or meatballs. For Food Network Magazine‘s Pesto Chicken Burgers (pictured above), we tore up a bun and mixed it with water to make a panade, a mixture of liquid and starch that holds ingredients together. Use this trick for any recipe that calls for breadcrumbs as a binder.
If you’re looking for a lamb burger unlike any other this grilling season, with a simplicity that is approachable for any home cook with a gourmet look and with flavor that will keep folks coming back for more, then look no further. Chef and butcher Adam Sappington of The Country Cat Dinner House and Bar in Portland, Ore., is showing FN Dish readers how to spice up their burger recipes with different meats and out-of-the-ordinary toppings, like jam.
Try lamb: Making sure that lamb is the star of this burger, Adam seasons the patty using only salt and pepper. Once grilled to perfection thanks to his step-by-step instructions below, the patty is laid on a buttered bun piled high with creamy Havarti cheese, peppery arugula and Adam’s showstopping Smoked Tomato and Mint Jam — lamb and mint, a match made in heaven. The best part of this jam, besides the flavor, of course, is how home cook-friendly it is. It starts with a can of fire-roasted tomatoes, then all of the ingredients, ginger, paprika, brown and white sugar, salt and pepper, are added to a heavy-bottomed saucepan and cooked to the desired consistency. Once everything is cooked, fresh mint is folded in; the jam can be stored in the refrigerator for up to one week.
When it comes to building the ultimate hamburger, Iron Chef Geoffrey Zakarian is doing things a little differently. Forget about everything you know to be true about barbecuing, seasoning and flipping the meat. Chef Zakarian is introducing an all-new method that will wow you with its simplicity and tried-and-true results, so much so that you won’t be tempted to return to the dry, flavorless patties of burgers past. Chatting with fans at a recent event at the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa in Atlantic City, he demonstrated his flawless technique and shared can’t-miss tips that are easy enough for the home cook to master — and you don’t even have to wait until grilling season to try them.
10. Cook hamburgers on a cast-iron skillet indoors, instead of on an outdoor grill.
9. Opt for corn-fed ground meat that features about 25 percent to 30 percent fat.
8. The ideal blend of freshly ground meat includes equal parts chuck, rib eye and either flank steak or brisket.
7. Let meat come to room temperature before you cook with it.
6. Preheat the skillet until it’s screaming hot — only then should the meat be added.
- Choose a specific cut. Meat with generic labels like “ground beef” or “hamburger” can come from any part of the cow or from trimmings, so they can be inconsistent in flavor and texture. Ground meat labeled “chuck,” “sirloin” or another cut must contain at least 50 percent meat from that cut; it’s usually higher quality. If possible, go for organic, grass-fed beef; we love the flavor.
- Check the color. Don’t worry if packaged ground beef is bright red in some areas and brown or purplish in others. This is a harmless reaction of the meat’s surface to the air. However, if all of the meat in a package is gray, check the date — it may be past its prime.
Last year, we polled FN Dish readers: Burgers or hot dogs for Memorial Day weekend? While 44 percent said they would be indulging in both, 35 percent said they were all about the burger. To ensure you cook up tender and juicy burgers this upcoming long weekend, we asked the “Magician of Meat” Pat LaFrieda, Jr. to offer up some tips.
5 Things to Avoid Doing to Your Burger
• Never place your burger on a grill that is not preheated. Always make sure your grill is hot enough and ready to cook on before placing the burger down. Too often people turn on the grill and immediately place the meat down to start cooking — and the end result is never pretty. If the grill is preheated to the right temperature, you’ll notice the difference.
Food Republic: Congratulations to Ted Allen for winning his second James Beard Award last weekend. The Chopped host talks about his inspiration from competition judges and reveals his favorite food pairings.
Washington Post: Nearing Julia Child’s 100th birthday, we remember how the beloved French Chef revolutionized home cooking, especially for women.
Travel + Leisure: Have a passion for burgers? See if your town made the cut for America’s Best Burger Cities 2012.
Slate: We all know kale is good for you, but how about an all-kale diet?
The Daily Meal: Girl Scout candy bars are real. Flavors include Thin Mint, Caramel and Coconut and Peanut Butter Créme.
“Burger Bash is where it’s at,” Michael Symon said as we started our interview. It’s arguably the most sought after-ticket at the South Beach Wine and Food Festival, drawing in crowds by the hundreds. Food writers, bloggers and burger enthusiasts travel from far and wide to watch their favorite chefs vie for the title of Best Burger. (And eat them, of course.)
Last year, event sponsors Allen Brothers provided each of the 26 vendors with meat; this year, they increased that number to 32 — that’s right, 32 burgers (see the full list here).
There are three awards to be had for the night: People’s Choice, Judges’ Favorite and the Heinz Best-Dressed Burger Award. While they are all coveted, there is one in particular that each chef has their eye on: The People’s Choice — the award where the guests get to choose their favorite. How do they vote? As you enter the tent, everyone receives one token. Next to each of the chefs’ booths is a box. Once you pick a favorite burger, you drop your token into the box.