Food Republic’s third annual Grilling Month may have come and gone, but grilling season remains in full force as the official start of summer fast approaches. In order to refresh your backyard barbecue knowledge, we revisit 10 burger secrets from this year’s almighty Grilling Gods (and a Goddess). Interviews with each of them brought us wide-ranging bits of advice, from cooking techniques to blend suggestions to must-have toppings. Fire up the grill this weekend and try out one – or all – of these pro tips!
TOM COLICCHIO, celebrity chef and head judge of Top Chef
"Always go to a butcher and get fresh ground meat. Don’t buy the pre-packaged stuff."
ERIK ANDERSON, chef of Nashville’s Catbird Seat
"I am morally and philosophically opposed to grilling a burger. [When pressed for more]: Cube the meat and then cure it overnight with salt, black pepper, thyme and garlic. Then grind it coarsely with one pound of Benton's bacon to every 15 pounds of meat. Patty them to a size of six ounces — no more, no less."
SEAMUS MULLEN, chef of New York’s Tertulia
"The secret to a burger is to make a thin patty and cook it very quickly over very high heat so that the exterior gets charred, but the inside is nice and pink."
RICK TRAMONTO, chef of Restaurant R’evolution in New Orleans
"Stuff the burger with garlic herb compound butter."
SEAN BRASEL, chef of Miami’s Meat Market
"Don’t overwork the meat. The more you mix it and play with it, the tougher it gets. You want to form it right before it goes on the grill and barely work it. This will produce a more flaky and crumbly tender hamburger."
TIM GOODELL, President of Domaine Restaurants
"It’s not a big secret, but always seasoning your meats generously with salt and pepper before grilling makes all the difference in the world."
SANG YOON, chef of Father’s Office gastropub in Los Angeles
"One hundred percent chuck (with an 80/20 blend). Chuck has it all. It has great flavor and is affordable. You need 20% fat because much of it melts away on a grill."
RUSS FAULK, Kalamazoo Outdoor Gourmet Grillmaster
"I like to use a blue brie. It melts beautifully and has great flavor. Cambozola is my go-to topping, along with some rings from a thick slice of red onion that has been grilled to the sweet and translucent stage."
WALLY JOE, chef of Acre in Memphis
"Why mess up a good burger? Just don't buy the lean stuff. You need the fat! Lettuce, tomato, cheddar cheese, garlic mayo and Benton's Bacon. That's ALL you need."
MEGAN LOGAN, chef of Nick & Stef’s Steakhouse in Los Angeles
"I like to mix a little bit of dry-aged fat (trimmed from our dry-aged ribeye). It can be a bit indulgent, but it’s delicious!"
Now, try out these burger recipes on Food Republic: