Burgers are so overexposed these days that it might be kind of shocking to see one that’s so normal. Mine isn’t stuffed with anything or made of bacon or ground by hand from prime cuts of meat. It’s just ground beef with salt and pepper, but somehow, I have trouble finding burgers better than this. I think it’s because the key to a great burger isn’t in how fancy and different you try to make it – it just takes some attention to detail.
The most important thing you can do to make an impressive burger is to not tightly pack the patty. The less you touch it, the better. My usual method is to cut the meat into individual burger portions and shape them into patties without mashing the meat around or breaking up the grain. You want the burgers to just barely stick together; that way, when they tighten up on the grill, they won’t turn into hockey pucks. Another good way to prevent your burgers from getting too dense through the middle is to leave a dimple in the center of the patty when you make it. The rest is just common sense: make your burgers wide enough to cover the whole bun; make them about the same thickness as a good steak; season them pretty heavily with salt and pepper or something like Montreal steak seasoning; cook them to medium-rare or medium temperature so they stay juicy.
Atlanta is a pretty incredible town for burgers. With places like Farm Burger, Yeah! Burger, Flip, Holeman & Finch, Grindhouse and the Vortex all short drives from my apartment, it’s easy to take a fantastic hamburger for granted. So it says a lot for this burger that on Friday night, when I was grilling these by our pool, I didn’t feel like I could get anything better.
1 1/4 pounds ground beef
- Divide your meat into 3 portions – each one should be slightly less than half a pound. Loosely pack into a patty about an inch thick with an indentation in the center. Be sure not to over-handle the meat.
- Season the patties pretty heavily with salt and pepper, like you would season a steak. Set your grill to medium-high or high heat. I grilled my burgers at about 350 degrees.
- Grill burgers for about 5 minutes a side for medium, slightly less for medium rare. The burgers pictured are topped with cheddar, lettuce, onion, tomato, ketchup and dijon mustard.