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Loreal Gavin, author of The Butcher Babe Cookbook: Comfort Food Hacked by a Classically Trained Chef, shares her four fool-proof hacks for making the perfect burger.
Learn how to form, grill, flip and top your way to a summer full of burger bliss. Then put your new skills into practice with her cheesy pimento burger recipe.
1. The Perfect Burger Patty
For the best burgers, I use a freshly ground chuck/brisket mixture. This is one of the best blends for burgers because it has a great fat to meat ratio. The shape of my burgers depends on the size of bread they will be served on. There's nothing more annoying than having to search for your burger patty under a ton of bread or making a mess because you're basically eating a hunk of meat in between 2 crackers. One time I screamed, "Where's the beef?" at a barbecue and everyone just stared at me. Shape the meat into balls them squish them into patties; this will give the scalloped edges which will get nice and crispy on the grill. Make an indent in the center of the patty. This will help it retain its shape and keep in the meaty juices while grilling.
2. The Perfect Flip
Before you put the meat to the heat, make sure the grill is nice and hot and that just a touch of oil has been introduced. More often than not, burgers get torn up because the cooking surface wasn't hot enough, the grill wasn't seasoned or clean, and they weren't ready to be flipped yet. For extra easy flipping insurance, brush the patties with oil as well as the cooking surface. Most importantly, don't play with your meat. Once you set the patty on the grill, just leave it alone! A good way to tell if a protein isn't ready to be flipped is if it's sticking to the pan or grill. Wait until it releases easily from the cooking surface before flipping.
3. The Perfect Cheeseburger
Pretty much every kind of cheese tastes great on a burger, but I love topping mine with pimento cheese. It adds a complex spicy flavor to the burger and packs many flavors/toppings all in one easy addition. The best way to melt cheese onto your burgers is to cover them a heat-proof bowl/dome. Placing a dome on top of the burger allows for the cheese to melt without charring the burger.
4. The Perfect Toppings
The bread for your burgers is as important as the burger mix itself. It must be toasted. I repeat: It must be toasted. The best toppings for a burger add a variety of flavors and textures that compliment the savory juiciness of the burger. Everyone is different, of course, but this is how I like to get down: iceberg lettuce for crispiness, tomato slices (seasoned with salt and pepper) for a silky, buttery texture and sweetness, red onion for a sharp bite and pickled vegetables for crunch and tanginess.
If you liked that Pimento cheeseburger recipe, you should also try these:
- How to grill burgers: Secrets to the perfect patty
- Bobby Flay shares his secrets to making the ultimate burger
- 9 classic and creative burger recipes from across America