Chances are, you dream of serving up smoky briskets and competition-quality ribs. But most of the time, when you fire up your grill, it's to cook a humble hamburger. Here's a burger quite like any you've probably ever tasted. In order to keep succulence in a fully cooked burger, Raichlen places a disk of herb butter in the center. The melting butter moistens the meat from the inside, so you cook it through without drying it out.
For the hamburgers:
1 1?2 pounds ground sirloin, round, or chuck
4 tablespoons Garlic-Herb Butter, cut into 4 half-inch-thick slices
Coarse salt and black pepper
4 slices (2 to 3 ounces) pancetta (Italian bacon; optional)
4 slices white Cheddar cheese (optional)
4 hamburger buns or kaiser rolls
2 tablespoons melted butter
For the toppings (any or all of the following):
Bibb or red leaf lettuce leaves
Thin slices of raw or grilled sweet onion
Sliced ripe red tomato
Mustard, ketchup, mayonnaise, relish, or whatever other condiment you may fancy
Wet your hands with cold water and divide the ground beef into 4 portions. Pat each portion into a thick patty filled with a slice of herb butter. Season with salt and pepper and refrigerate the burgers, covered, on a plate lined with plastic wrap while you preheat the grill.
Set up the grill for direct grilling and preheat to high. When ready to cook, brush and oil the grill grate.
Grill the pancetta, if using, until golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towels to drain.
Place the burgers on the hot grate and season again with salt and pepper. Grill the burgers until cooked through, 5 to 7 minutes per side for medium. (If you like, rotate the burgers 90 degrees halfway through cooking to create an attractive crosshatch of grill marks.) If using cheese and/or pancetta, place a slice of each on each burger after you've turned it (pancetta first). To test for doneness, insert an instant-read meat thermometer through the side of the burger into the center. The internal temperature should be at least 160°F for medium.
Brush the buns with the melted butter and toast them on the grill, 30 seconds to 1 minute.
Assemble the burgers: On the bottom half of each bun, place a lettuce leaf followed by a slice of onion and tomato. Top with the burger, the condiments of your choice, and the top half of the bun.
In the Balkans, burgers are made with a mixture of ground beef, veal, pork, and sometimes lamb. The spicing in the meat is a little more extravagant too: diced onion, chopped parsley, cumin, paprika, and fresh dill.
Also good for:
To make lamb burgers, use ground lamb in place of the beef. To make lamb cheeseburgers, substitute goat cheese for the Cheddar.
Click here to find out more about the book this recipe came from, How To Grill, by Steven Raichlen.