6 Easy Burger Hacks In Time For Memorial Day

by Marion Bernstein

Memorial Day weekend is quickly approaching, which means you have less than one week to perfect your backyard barbecuing skills. Have no fear, because lucky for you, I'm here to present six easy burger hacks that will make this Memorial Day grilling challenge feel a little less daunting.

At this point you're probably thinking... Is burger grilling really that daunting? Let's just say that the last time I offered to take up outdoor grilling for eight of my closest Q train friends, the following thoughts ran through my head in no less than 30 seconds flat: What if I buy the wrong meat? What if I don't buy enough meat? What if I use too much lighter fluid? What if I don't use enough lighter fluid? Do people still use lighter fluid? Do bodegas even sell lighter fluid? What if I get lighter fluid on my clothes? Does dry cleaning get rid of lighter fluid stains? What IS dry cleaning?

And so it goes. Perhaps I should have written an article on how to remedy distracting mind tangents instead. Mild generalized anxiety disorder aside, we're here to talk burger hacks. So to make your burger flipping life a little easier this Memorial Day, I've compiled six easy burger hacks that will be sure to assuage all grilling fears and please all obliging crowds.

Hack No. 1: Choose your meat wisely

Most grilling masters agree that the 80/20 meat to fat ratio is a good rule of thumb. In layman's terms, that means reach for 80 percent lean beef. The 20 percent fat content will produce a juicy burger without significant patty shrinkage. And feel free to blend your meats — sirloin, brisket, chuck, short rib — heck, you can even throw some Italian sausage in there as a time-saving flavor addition.

Hack No. 2: Choose your bread wisely

To avoid a soggy mess of a bun, choose a sturdier bread like a rustic artisan roll or ciabatta. If you love the softness of a buttery brioche or potato roll, just make sure to toast those bad boys face down first.

Hack No. 3: Form the burger around the cheese

What's the best part of the burger? Cheese. Stop losing precious flavor points to melty drippage, and learn to stuff your burger with cheese. Just shred or crumble your cheese of choice (I'm a sucker for a smoked gouda or a pungent blue), form a crater in your meat patty, then fold meat to cover the cheese pocket. Add additional ground meat if needed.

Hack No. 4: Let it be

Once you've placed your patties on the oiled grill, resist the very real urge to flip the burgers more than once. For medium burgers (warm, pink center), cook over medium heat for about five minutes on one side with the grill lid closed. You'll know it's time to flip the burger when it releases from the grill without sticking. Cook on the other side for another five minutes.

Hack No. 5: Let those juices rest

Once they're finished cooking, let your patties rest for a few minutes before eating. The additional time will allow the flavorful juices to redistribute themselves throughout the patty. The result? A better balanced burger.

Hack No. 6: Wow your crowd with toppings

Lettuce? Check. Tomato? Check. Pickled everything? Cha! Now dress to impress with your own rendition of Shake Shack's highly coveted and perfectly creamy secret sauce. Feeling extra fancy? Take some advice from this year's Texas Chili Cook-Off winner Javelina, and top your burger with a hearty helping of Texas red chili. Add homemade queso to taste.

Images: drywell/Etsy; Whole Foods; Robyn Lee, Mike, Angel Lopez, Andrew Czap/Flickr; Shake Shack/Facebook; Fotolia