Burgers are America's favorite grill food, and now
turkey burgers share the spotlight with
beef. Here we offer old and new classics for both
kinds of burger. In this article you'll
learn the differences between grinds, cooking for
the grill or stovetop, how to test for
doneness, and how to use ground turkey for delicious
Which Ground Beef?
Ground round: Top round is the leanest cut of
beef, with bottom round not far behind. Both make dry
Ground sirloin: Made up of 85 to 90 percent lean meat, ground
sirloin makes dry, compact burgers.
Ground chuck: This sinewy shoulder cut is the number-one choice for
burgers because it's so succulent and
flavorful. Instead of settling for packaged, preground chuck, have
it ground to order. Ask the butcher to trim
off as much excess fat as possible before it goes into the grinder.
Three ounces of well-trimmed chuck
contains 7 grams of fat (3 saturated) and untrimmed chuck nearly
Regular hamburger: This mix of trimmings has the most fat of all the
grinds, which means that the burgers
shrink as they cook. Don't be misled by a package that says "75
percent lean." That means it's 25 percent
fat; too much for anyone.
Shape the meat into neat patties 1-inch thick at the center. Handle
them gently or the burgers will be
compact and crumbly. Place the meat on a grill rack coated with oil
or nonstick vegetable spray and set 6
inches above a hot fire.
For well-done burgers, grill 4 minutes, until browned. Carefully
turn and brown the other side, about 3
minutes. Do not press the burgers with a spatula while they cook or
they will lose juices and flavor.
When cooking, use a stovetop grilling pan with grids molded into the
bottom, if possible. It will prevent
burgers from steaming in their own juices.
The US Department of Agriculture recommends that all ground beef be
cooked well done. Disease-causing
organisms (live E. coli bacteria) found in undercooked ground beef
can cause food poisoning. To make sure
burgers are well done, cook until an instant-read thermometer
inserted in the center registers 160 to 165°F.
Or make a thin cut in the center of the burger. If the hamburger is
well done, the juices will be golden or
To cut way down on fat, use ground turkey instead of beef. Ground
white meat makes the lowest-fat burger
of all, but a combination of ground white and dark meat turkey makes
the best burgers.
To boost the juiciness of turkey burgers, work 1 tablespoonful olive
oil or a chopped onion sautéed in a
tablespoonful of oil into a pound of meat.
Bump up the flavor of ground turkey with 1 tablespoon Worcestershire
or bottled steak sauce. Or boost
flavor by adding 2 tablespoons bottled chili or barbecue sauce to a
pound of turkey meat. For a different
accent, work 2 tablespoons Chinese plum sauce and 1 teaspoon minced
fresh gingerroot into the burger
and substitute scallions for onion.