Photo: Gourmet/Romulo A. Yanes
May is National Burger Month, but given the insane popularity of burgers year-round, every month is burger month. That said, millions of grills will be firing up for the Memorial Day weekend, and that means a whole lot of burgers.
Purists like their meat plain, preferring to embellish with add-ons such as bacon, cheese, guacamole, onion—the likely suspects. But with mix-ins so popular in ice cream, it’s tempting to slip a little surprise into your burger. Just don’t blend in the tasty tidbits as if you’re mooshing chopped up candy bars into a frozen scoop of cream. Gentle is the operative word here; handle the meat as little as possible, but just enough to get the additions incorporated.
- Who doesn’t weep with joy at that fiery hit of smoky heat? Finely chop chipotle chiles in adobo and include some sauce.
- Double the action by adding smoked paprika—play it safe with sweet (dulce) Spanish pimenton, or get wild with the hot (picante) version.
- Triple the smoke by topping with crisp slices of bacon or smoked salt.
Who says bacon has to be on top? Chop a good amount of it and cook it until it’s crisp, then drain and cool on paper towels. Gently form meat into balls, then create a deep hole in each ball with your thumb and stuff with bacon. Close up holes and form into burgers.
Get briny by chopping your favorite pitted olives (we love kalamata). They’re great in ground chuck or lamb. If you’ve got fresh thyme, finely chop it before adding.
If the trinity of equal parts minced garlic, parsley, and grated lemon zest makes osso buco sing, you’ll make budding Placido Domingos out of your friends when you mix the trio into your favorite ground meat.
Go Greek with a generous dose of crumbled feta in ground chuck or lamb. When cooked, the feta doesn’t really melt; it softens. If you’ve got some mint, chop and add it with the feta.
However you jazz up your burger, remember these tips for cooking it properly.