Five Burger-Building Secrets To Thrill Grilling Fans
(ARA) – You may switch things up with salmon or add variety with veggies, but when it comes right down to it, the burger is still king of summer grilling.
‘Americans’ love affair with a great burger is enduring and passionate,’ says Dave Woolley, executive chef of Red Robin Gourmet Burgers, a national restaurant chain that specializes in gourmet burgers. ‘For summer entertaining, the burger is versatile, interesting, flavorful and reliable. It’s hard to top its appeal.’
Cuisine, culture and creativity continue to drive the popularity of the burger. In honor of National Hamburger Month this May – and Memorial Day, the unofficial kick off of grilling season – Woolley and his team of burger connoisseurs offer their top five grilling tips for creating gourmet burgers at home:
Start with high-quality ingredients
A burger is only as good as the beef you start with; buy higher-grade USDA beef. Select only the freshest produce from your local market for toppings. Consider sauteing and caramelizing some of the toppings, such as onions, mushrooms and even chilies. This can add a distinct nutty sweetness to burgers. Finally, use artisan breads or specialty buns to add another dimension to the burger’s flavor profile. An herb-encrusted bun adds an ethnic flare, and a jalapeno cornmeal Kaiser roll can round out the flavor of a spicy burger.
Add ethnic flavor
Adding ingredients you might not typically use on a burger can create a whole new flavor experience. Consider Italian favorites like Marsala sauce, pesto or caprese. Or try seasonings like Jamaican jerk spice to make the flavor pop.
Create flavor harmony
Incorporate ingredients that are harmonious and work in unison. You can get creative and mix sweet and salty tastes like bacon and tomato or sweet and spicy like pineapple and spicy jerk sauce. Balancing flavors is the key.
Altering your toppings can help you achieve a lighter gourmet burger without compromising on taste. Replace mayonnaise with mustard or salsa, which are both flavorful but lower in calories. Use olive oil instead of vegetable oil to saute or caramelize toppings. Even bacon can be lightened up if you cook it until it’s crispy to remove as much fat as possible. You can even wrap your burger in lettuce instead of a bun for another lighter dimension of freshness, flavor and crispiness.
Adding gourmet flair is easy
‘Red Robin is known for combining a variety of harmonizing flavors to create really unique gourmet burgers,’ says Woolley. ‘You can make a spicy gourmet burger at home by enhancing store-bought items with fresh ingredients.’ For example, you can dress up store-bought salsa by adding your own finely chopped tomatoes, red onion, cilantro, serrano peppers and jalapenos. Turn common mayo into chipotle mayonnaise by pureeing chipotle peppers and mixing them in. Add a dash of cayenne pepper to your favorite grill seasoning. Top a burger with pepper jack cheese and some jalapenos and your guests’ taste buds will be grateful.