Pimento Bacon Cheeseburgers
And Tips for Making a Better Burger
Summer is unofficially here (80 plus degrees heat!) in Oklahoma and it’s time for us all to get our burger game on. Summer is always filled with family hanging out around the BBQ grill and I wanted to share with you some tips I’ve learned for making better burgers.
Oh yes! And there’s a killer recipe coming as well so read on!
After making the Homemade Pimento Cheese earlier in the week I was thinking about how good it would be on a hamburger. I was thinking specifically about Father’s Day which is coming up soon so I wanted this burger to be above par and truly spectacular, so try some of the following while you follow along with me making this glorious hamburger and apply them whenever you want a burger that’s a cut above that will have people talking about your cookouts and how spectacular your grilling skills are!
Let’s start with the basics and discuss what kind of meat you should use. My favorite two meats are ground chuck and ground sirloin for hamburgers. So today I got two pounds of each and mixed them together. If you can have your butcher grind this blend for you, even better, because the more you handle the meat, the more chance you have of the fat melting from warmth and you’ll be left with dry crumbly burgers.
This also applies to our next step – shaping the burgers. Rinse your hands in ice cold water before shaping your burgers with them (and thoroughly dry) first which will take the temperature down of your hands and also….this will take care of your dirty grimy hands carrying germs as well!
ALSO! The jury is divided over this one but I salt and pepper my burgers on the outside of the patties instead of mixing it in and just a moment or two before we grill. Scientifically it’s supposed to be better because salting too early will break down the fibers of the meat resulting in a denser, tougher patty.
We’ll talk about buns later but depending on the size of bun you’ve chosen, you’re going to need to patty your burgers just a tad bigger to allow for shrinkage after you grill them.
Separate the meat into same-sized chunks and lightly roll them around into loose balls. We don’t want hockey puck burgers but loosely-formed patties.
Then lightly pat them into patties (about 1/2 inch thick), again touching as little as possible.
Now burgers tend to puff up in the middle when they cook, so using two to three fingers, make a small indention in the center of each patty.
This will ensure that your toppings will nicely stay on your burgers instead of sliding off of the highly round top!
Heat your outdoor grill up and then salt and pepper your burgers.
Here is something we do at my house. We use a plastic inexpensive tray to take our meat out to the grill…because – no breakage! Then we cover it with waxed paper or even tin foil.
After the meat is put on the grill we take off the wax paper and voila – we have a clean tray to bring the meat back in on.
Grill the burgers for a few minutes on each side over a hot grill. And can I recommend that no matter how skilled you think you are….make it easy on yourself and use a meat thermometer? DO NOT, I repeat do NOT cut into your meat to check it…you’re just letting all the juices out of your burger by doing this!
Here are some suggestions for temperature:
Medium Rare 130º-135ºF
Medium Well 150º-155ºF
Well Done 160º-170ºF and higher
However, if you go above medium, I don’t want to HEAR about it! We’ve already discussed hockey puck burgers and dry flavorless hockey pucks would be even worse! We prefer our burgers to be in the medium rare to medium stage. They’re WAY more flavorful and juicy!
Once you’re done, remove the burgers to a platter and put on your cheese, if using so it can melt. Tent the burgers for at least three minutes. Waiting for a few minutes allows the juices to redistribute and not run out on the first bite of your burger!
Now for the buns – try to upgrade to a gourmet bun like brioche or another soft pillowy bun. We love the Sara Lee Hawaiian buns of late so that’s what I used for this burger. We also love pretzel rolls and potato rolls.
Something that makes ALL the difference in the world is toasting your hamburger buns. Here is a good method.
Melt some butter of medium high heat in a skillet – iron skillet is best! I only used maybe 2 tablespoons of butter.
Split your buns apart and put face down in the pan/griddle.
Check them after a minute – you want them to look like this…
Now to build your burger.
Lay on the meat. Add the cheese and bacon. (Psst bake your bacon for the absolute best results – click here to see how!) If I did it again I’d do the cheese first so it would heat more.
A simple addition of lettuce and tomato makes this super-special burger spectacular.
Now dig in.
You’ve put the extra effort in and you’ve earned it!