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Perfectly Grilled Burgers
From 25 Essentials: Techniques for Grilling, by Ardie A. Davis

Sometimes the simplest things are hard to beat, like a perfectly grilled hamburger. But simplicity involves good ingredients and good technique. First, it is essential to select the right beef. Bob Stone, a friend, butcher, and barbecue buddy, says it's best to buy ground meat from a specified cut, like sirloin or chuck, instead of the generic "ground beef." The latter is not necessarily bad, but the quality will vary, since ground beef can come from any part of the animal. When I can afford it, I buy ground sirloin; other times I buy ground chuck. I prefer 80 percent lean burgers for grilling. The fat cooks out and makes for a juicy burger. The second secret to perfect burgers is to use medium- to medium-high heat, so they don't burn.

I have savored charcoal-grilled burgers since my childhood in Oklahoma City, where I lived only a block and a half from the Split-T, a longtime burger joint that cooks its burgers over a charcoal-fired flame. Here's my rendition of the classic.


1 pound ground chuck
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste Mayonnaise
4 whole wheat or sourdough buns
4 slices onion, preferably Texas Sweet or Vidalia


1. Fill a charcoal chimney with briquets, set the chimney on the bottom grill grate, and light. When the coals are ready, dump them into the bottom of your grill and spread evenly. For a gas grill, turn to medium.

2. Add salt and pepper to the ground chuck and mix well with your hands. Shape the meat into 4 patties of equal size.

3. Grill the burgers for 7 minutes on each side.

4. Spread mayonnaise on the inside of each bun and top with a grilled burger. Garnish with the onion slices and enjoy.

Yield: Serves 4

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