How to Make the Perfect Burger

It's easy to make this all-American favorite!

Just about any burger is good on a hot summer day (provided it is paired with a good brewski). But a really good, plump juicy burger? Now that's heaven. Use these 10 tips from Barbecue Bible author Steven Raichlen to make it happen:

• Use beef chuck (preferably from grass-fed beef) with a lean to fat ratio of 80/20. Any leaner and your burger will be dry.
• Chill the meat thoroughly and wet your hands with cold water before forming the meat into patties.
• Mix grated or crumbled cheese into the meat for added moistness and flavor, or enclose it in the center of the patty.
• When forming the burger patties, work quickly using a light touch. Pack the meat as loosely as possible.
• Make a slight depression in the center of each patty; once cooked, it will have a more uniform thickness.
• The diameter of your formed burger should be about one inch larger than the bun; it will shrink as it cooks.
• Season the burgers with salt and pepper after you put them on the hot grill grate; season the other side when you turn the burgers. Turn only once.
• Use a spatula for turning the burgers, but never, ever press the tops -- unless you want all those great juices to be lost to the fire.
• Let the burgers rest on a warm plate for two minutes before serving or transferring to buns.
• For variety, consider using other ground proteins for your burgers -- lamb, turkey, chicken, pork, veal, or even tuna or salmon.

Nestpert: Steven Raichlen is the host of Primal Grill™ and Barbecue University™ on American Public Television, and a multi-award-winning author. Raichlen wrote the best-selling Barbecue Bible cookbook series (Workman Publishing -- more than four million copies in print), including his authoritative new book, the 638-page Planet Barbecue documenting two million years of grilling in 60 countries on six continents.

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