Spring Burger Tips and Recipes

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Spring Burger

Spring grilling season is upon us! It’s time to dust off your Weber, pull out your tongs, and enjoy the warmer weather and longer days with a burger in hand.

To prepare for the season, there are a few steps you should take before your first cookout. You’ll want to properly clean your grill and tools, organize your recipes, and brush up on grilling basics. To get the scoop on spring grilling essentials, we chatted with Cees Brinkman, owner of The Pharmacy Burger Parlor & Beer Garden in Nashville, Tennessee.

Brinkman is a bona fide burger aficionado. Even in a city with such a multitude of great food options, he’s made a name for himself as the burger king, releasing inventive seasonal creations nearly every month. His team works hard to make everything in-house, from sauces to sausages to soda. Read on for all things spring grilling, including some recipes to try at home. Try not to get too hungry!

Grilling Prep

One step cooks often forget about — whether accidentally or on purpose — is grill prep. “Cleaning your grill is a step that should not be skipped,” says Brinkman. “It can make or break the quality of your burger.” 

Follow this list to get your grill in tip-top shape before the first patty of the season meets the grates.

Clean the Grates:

Remove the grates and scrub them with a dedicated brush to eliminate any leftover residue from previous use. If the grates are dishwasher-safe, you can clean them in the dishwasher. Otherwise, hand-washing with warm, soapy water works well.

Clean the Burner Tubes and Ventilation:

Using a brush or pipe cleaner, remove debris or cobwebs from the burner tubes. Then check and clean the ventilation holes for proper airflow.

Empty the Grease Pan:

Remove and empty the grease pan or tray. Cleaning this area regularly throughout the season prevents flare-ups and reduces the risk of a grease fire.

Inspect the Ignition System:

Test the ignition system to ensure it’s working correctly. If the ignition is battery-powered, replace the batteries if necessary.

Check the Gas Supply:

If you have a gas grill, inspect the gas supply lines for leaks. You can do this by applying a soap-water solution to the connections and watching for bubbles.

Inspect and Clean the Exterior:

Wipe down the grill’s exterior to remove dust and other outdoor debris that may be clinging on from storage.

Verify Propane Levels:

If you use a propane grill, check the propane tank for leaks and for adequate propane. Replace the tank if necessary.

Season Cast-Iron Grates:

If your grill has cast-iron grates, season them with a thin layer of vegetable oil to prevent rusting.

Preheat and Burn Off Residue:

Preheat the grill on high for 10–15 minutes to burn off any residue or contaminants from the previous season. Keep the lid closed during this process.

Top 3 Burger Grilling Tips

Now let’s get to the fun part! Here are Brinkman’s top three tips for grilling phenomenal burgers.

Tip #1: Choose the Right Meat:

Start with high-quality ground beef for the best flavor and texture. Aim for a meat-to-fat ratio of around 80/20 (80% lean meat and 20% fat) for a juicy and flavorful burger.

Tip #2: Handle the Meat Gently:

When forming the burger patties, handle the meat gently to avoid overpacking and making the burgers dense and tough. Shape the patties with a light touch, and create a thumbprint in the center of each patty (this helps the burgers cook more evenly, as they tend to puff up in the middle during grilling). Also, resist the urge to press down on the burgers with the spatula while grilling. This releases juices and can lead to dry burgers.

Tip #3: Get the Grill and Patties Ready:

Preheat the grill to medium-high heat before placing the burgers on it. This will produce a good sear and helps prevent sticking. Brush the grill grates with oil or cooking spray to reduce the chances of sticking.

Season the patties just before grilling to prevent the salt from drawing moisture from the meat. 

While cooking, use a meat thermometer to make sure the burgers reach a safe internal temperature. For medium-rare burgers, aim for an internal temperature of 130–135°F (54–57°C), for medium, cook to 140–145°F (60–63°C), and for well-done 160°F (71°C) or higher.

Finally, allow the burgers to rest for a few minutes after grilling. This helps the juices redistribute, resulting in a juicier burger when you bite into it.

Spring Burger Recipes to Try

A great-tasting, well-prepared burger is a joy in and of itself. But The Pharmacy is a proponent of experimenting with toppings of all kinds to take your patties to the next level.

This spring, Joseph Bodenbach, kitchen manager of The Pharmacy, encourages you to try some new creations: “With all our toppings made in-house, we pride ourselves on fresh and flavorful ingredients. Our cooks slow-simmer black beans, hand-mash guacamole, fresh-dice pico de gallo, and blend up a creamy horchata sauce for the Mission City flavor bomb.”

“The next time you grill a burger,” he advises, “top it with your favorite guacamole and some fresh diced tomato and onion. Hit it with a squeeze of lime, then add our black beans and horchata crema. It’s a little taste of the Southwest in your backyard!” 

Braised Black Beans

Ingredients:

  • Four 15.5 oz. cans black beans
  • ¾ yellow onion, diced
  • ½ green bell pepper, diced
  • ½ Tbsp. garlic, minced
  • ¾ bunch cilantro, picked and chopped
  • 1.5 oz. oil of choice
  • 1 Tbsp. ground cumin
  • ½ Tbsp. ground coriander
  • 2 Tbsp. kosher salt
  • ½ Tbsp. granulated garlic
  • ½ Tbsp. granulated onion

Instructions:

  1. Sauté onions, peppers, and garlic in oil on medium-low heat until onions are translucent.
  2. Add spices and cook for another 5 minutes.
  3. Add beans and cook until temperature reaches 165°.
  4. Turn off heat, add cilantro, and stir to combine.

Horchata Crema

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. sour cream
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup white rice
  • 1 cinnamon stick, whole
  • 1 cinnamon stick, zested

Instructions:

  1. Add uncooked rice and 1 cinnamon stick to water and soak for 30 minutes at room temperature.
  2. Blend the soaked rice and water in a blender; strain liquid through a fine-mesh strainer.
  3. Add sour cream and a zested cinnamon stick to rice water, stir, and combine.

Conclusion

The effort needed to prep your grilling station in advance will undoubtedly pay off in the quality of your grilled meats and burgers. Take Brinkman’s advice to heart, and watch as you turn out your best burgers ever. Happy grilling!

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