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Food & Drink

How to grill a better burger

You pick up a package of premade ground beef patties at the supermarket, fire up the grill and assemble your favorite toppings.

But after taking a bite of that homemade burger, it doesn’t quite live up to your expectations. Is it the seasoning? Was the meat off? Should I have used a different grill?

Bid farewell to the burger blues with these simple tips from New Jersey chef, restaurateur and author Eric LeVine. The award-winning chef, who owns Morris Tap & Grill and Paragon Tap & Table, says making a better burger doesn’t require a lot of prep or fancy tools—but you do have to pay attention to what you’re using-- and know when to let your grill just do its thing.

1) Get your beef blend just right.

LeVine says when it comes to burgers, it really is all about your meat blend. Making your own blend doesn’t take that much time and shaping patties is a cinch.

“I prefer to make my own half-pound patties,” says the chef. “For juicy, flavorful burgers every time I use a triple blend of chuck, short loin, and brisket.”

And don’t go crazy with seasoning, which may not complement your toppings. Keep it simple with salt and pepper—additional flavors can be added later.

2) Keep the tools simple.

Always use a spatula to flip burgers—never use tongs. Before you fire up the grill, make sure the surface is clean using a sturdy grill brush. The last thing you or your guests want to taste is last summer’s meat build-up on this year’s burgers.

3) Bring on the heat.

Though many barbecue enthusiasts swear by either gas or charcoal, LeVine says both types of grills can beget great results.

“At the end of the day no matter what type of grill you use, adding some wood will impart great, smoky flavor."

4) Whatever you do – Don’t do this!

“Once you put the patty on, don’t push down on it. This is the biggest mistake I see people make - it drives me crazy,” says LeVine.  “Pushing down on the burger presses out all the natural juices. Then people ask why their burgers were so dried out.”

5) Let it rest.

Once your burger is cooked to the desired doneness, let is rest off the grill for about two to three minutes. The juices will redistribute through the meat—instead of soaking through your bun.

Ready to get grilling beyond burgers? Check out these essential grilling tools.