Light and bright sum­mer burger


Con­fes­sion time: Years ago, my sum­mer burger ven­tures re­sulted in foot-high flames, bro­ken burg­ers and apolo­gies on a bun. I was a patty-squish­ing, fast-flip­ping, burger-pok­ing men­ace. No won­der I ended up rel­e­gated to dessert.

Since then, I’ve learned the se­cret to com­pli­ment-in­duc­ing burg­ers starts with the right meat and is fol­lowed by a gen­tle touch, not ac­ro­bat­ics with a spat­ula.


Se­lect­ing the right fat con­tent for a burger is a lit­tle like Goldilocks’ quest for por­ridge. Reg­u­lar ground has so much fat your burger will shrink to the size of a slider. Ex­cess fat can also cause dra­matic flames on a grill or leave a pud­dle of grease in the skil­let.

On the other end of the spec­trum, ex­tra lean ground yields burg­ers that are dry and crumbly.

For­tu­nately, lean beef is just right. For lean meats like ground poul­try, smaller pat­ties and lower cook­ing tem­per­a­tures will help keep your burger juicy.


Over­work­ing your meat mix­ture will leave you with a dense burger that’s more like a hockey puck than a patty. Wet or oiled hands can help you han­dle the meat as lit­tle as pos­si­ble. For light pat­ties that will keep their shape, re­mem­ber these points: Less is more: When it comes to burg­ers, don’t over­work or com­pact the meat. You want to mix not mash, form not force. Unity is stregtn: Whether you're mak­ing full-sized burg­ers or two-bite slid­ers, a uni­form patty is key. Di­vide the mixed meat into equal por­tions be­fore form­ing the pat­ties. Once the meat is di­vided, roll each por­tion gen­tly into a ball, re­sist­ing the urge to squeeze it into for­ma­tion. Thin is in: While mile-high pat­ties look en­tic­ing, they will dry out be­fore they’re safely cooked all the way through. To form a patty that re­tains its juices, gen­tly flat­ten the meat ball, aim­ing for 2 cm to 2.5 cm (¾ inch to 1 inch) thick for burg­ers and 1.25 cm (½ inch) for slid­ers. Leave a dent: To pre­vent the dreaded “burger bub­ble,” gen­tly make an in­den­ta­tion in the mid­dle of each patty with your thumb or a spoon.


Burg­ers can be as sim­ple as ground meat sea­soned with a sprin­kle of salt and a few grinds of black pep­per or be filled with a dozen In­dian spices.

No matter what you are – or aren’t – putting in your burger, don’t salt the formed pat­ties un­til just be­fore you put them on the heat. Salt­ing too early will leave you with a dry burger since salt draws mois­ture from the meat.


Whether you cook over flames, in a skil­let, or un­der the broiler, what you don’t do can be the dif­fer­ence be­tween a de­li­cious, juicy burger and a bun full of dis­ap­point­ment. Don't fid­dle: Once you've placed your patty on the cook­ing sur­face, leave it alone to form a crust. This crust adds flavour and forms a bar­rier to help keep mois­ture in­side. Flip at the half-way point only. It’s a burger, not a coin toss. Don't flat­ten: For most of us it's al­most sec­ond na­ture to flat­ten the burger with the spat­ula to "help things along." - nately, press­ing doesn’t speed up cook­ing. How­ever, it does speed up dry­ing by forc­ing the juices out of the patty. Don't poke and prod: If you pull the patty apart to check for done­ness, you’re go­ing to break the burger and re­lease juices. In­stead, use a meat ther­mome­ter.

In­sert it into the cen­tre of the patty from the side, not the top, to en­sure a more ac­cu­rate read­ing. Cook the burger un­til the in­ter­nal tem­per­a­ture reaches the “safe zone.”

For ground beef, pork, veal and lamb, the in­ter­nal tem­per­a­ture should be 71°C (160°F). For ground chicken and turkey, the in­ter­nal tem­per­a­ture is 74°C (165°F). Don't rush: Once cooked, place the pat­ties on a clean cut­ting board or plat­ter to rest for five min­utes.

Rest­ing gives the pro­teins time to re­lax and al­lows the juices to re­dis­tribute evenly within the burger. The re­sult is a most burger, not a soggy bun.

Charmian Christie

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