In survey after survey, burgers are the Number One barbecued item for Canadians. Their enormous popularity prompted us to get creative.
We started with perfecting the best basic burger, then moved on to gourmet patties that will inspire a whole summer of delicious eating. Toppings go from kid-friendly to pleasers for the most discriminating palates.
Use these basic pointers to keep your burgers juicy:
- Use medium ground beef for more juicy, flavourful hamburgers. Patties made with lean ground beef tend to lose moisture during cooking and become dry.
- Juicy burgers need only gentle shaping when being formed. Overmixing and too much pressing and patting make tough, dry grainy tasting hamburgers.
- Turn burgers only once. Don't press or flatten with spatula during cooking because this forces out juices.
What you need to know about ground meat:
1. Buying ground meat
• Unless otherwise marked, supermarket ground beef comes from cuts primarily from the front shoulder (chuck) and trimmings from cuts.
• Ground beef from a specific cut is called “source-grind.” Ground sirloin is the most common, but you may also find ground blade or ground round. Source-grinds are slightly more expensive but often are tastier.
• You also can get very flavourful ground beef from butchers who carefully dry-age their meat. You can usually ask for coarse or fine ground, according to your preference.
• Ground beef is graded by fat content: extra-lean up to 10% fat; lean up to 17%; medium up to 23%; and regular up to 30%. The fat content of ground meats other than beef are not government regulated. However, ground pork or lamb, sold as lean or regular, follows the same guidelines as beef; we recommend lean.
• Ground meat must be used within 24 hours of purchase.
• Although cooking ground meat so it is no longer pink is generally safe, the Beef Council of Canada recommends the use of a digital meat thermometer. Remove the beef patty from the grill and insert the thermometer through the side until the tip reaches the centre. The internal temperature must reach 160°F (71°C) to kill any harmful bacteria, such as E. coli. Wash the thermometer immediately after testing any undercooked patty.
• Because fat drips out during cooking, the amount of fat in cooked ground beef is reduced by one-third.
• You can freeze ground meat for up to 3 months; seasoned and mixed ground meat can be frozen for 1 month in bulk or already formed in patties. Wrap in plastic and seal in airtight container or double wrap in foil.
• Any recipe for grilling burgers can be adapted to stove-top or broiler cooking. In grill pans and skillets, cook burgers over medium-high heat. Or broil 6 inches (15 cm) under heating element.
Page 1 of 2 - Our favourite recipes and creative toppings on next page!
Our favourite burger recipes and gourmet toppings
The Basic Burger
Make this tasty hamburger as is or with with any of the Flavour Perks. Top with your favourite topping or any of the Terrific Toppings.
Chipotle Turkey Burgers
You can make this burger with ground pork, chicken or veal. If you want to roll them in tortillas, shape them into ovals. Top with Avocado Salsa and shredded lettuce and cheese.
Tasty Extra-Lean Burgers
Grated onion and tomato juice provide moisture for extra-lean beef. Mustard and capers give it real zing. For anchovy lovers, mash in two anchovy fillets, rinsed to remove excess salt. Top with Fresh Tomato and Onion Relish.
Smoky Barbecue Burgers
Use Smoky Barbecue Sauce or a commercial smoke-flavoured sauce. The patties are unbelievably scrumptious smothered with Cheddar cheese, Sautéed Peppers or Golden Onions. Serve on a bun or thick slices of home-style white or brown bread.
Gourmet Gorgonzola Burgers
You can replace the Gorgonzola with borgonzola, Stilton or fresh goat cheese, but avoid strong blues such as Roquefort or Danish. You can also omit the cheese. Garnish with arugula or frisée lettuce leaves, top with Brandied Mushrooms and serve on a crusty sourdough bun.
Meat Loaf Burgers
Delight your family with burgers that capture the flavour of meat loaf. You can further enhance the treat by topping with shredded mozzarella or Cheddar cheese and gilding the lily even further with Brandied Mushrooms. Serve on onion buns.
Green Pepper Burgers
You can make these burgers with ground chicken, turkey, veal, pork or beef. Top with lettuce, Golden Onions or thickly sliced sweet onion rings and pickled hot peppers. Serve on slices of focaccia bread or flat Portuguese buns.
Herb and Spice Lamb Burgers
The lively combination of herbs and spices gives these burgers a sophisticated taste. Serve topped with tomato and cucumber slices and Tahini Mayonnaise or with Sautéed Peppers in grilled whole wheat pitas.
Bulgur and Mushroom Burgers
Finely chopped mushrooms are essential for this vegetarian burger, so a food processor is the ideal effort-saving appliance. Top the burgers with Fresh Herb Mayonnaise, lettuce and tomato slices or with Golden Onions and serve on whole wheat kaiser rolls.