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The Perfect 4th of July Burger… and Garden Update

In spite of our Southern California June Gloom, summer is officially here and it’s time to start thinking about burgers for the 4th of July.

 
There’s nothing like a great juicy burger, hot off the grill, perfectly cooked. It’s taken me years of trial, error and just plain bad ones to finally say I’ve unlocked the secrets to making the perfect burger.
 
And it’s so easy. Just follow these simple steps and I guarantee your friends will be back for more. 


Preparing the burgers.

  1. The meat. In order for a burger to be great it has to have 20% fat. That’s where all the flavor is. Ralph’s grinds their own with an 80/20 ratio and I usually buy mine there. But just make sure there’s at least 20% fat. And remember there is no such thing as a “Diet-Burger” so forget about counting calories.
  2. The shape. Handle the meat as little as possible and gently shape it into a nice flat patty. Over-handling makes the meat tough when you cook it.
  3. The indentation. Make a small depression on the top of the burger with your fingers. Burgers tend to round up when you cook them so if you start with the indentation you’ll end up with a perfectly flat burger and the bun won’t slide off the top.
  4. The seasoning. Salt, pepper and Worcestersire sauce.
 
Cooking the burgers.
  1. Start with a very hot grill.
  2. Place burgers on grill and NEVER press down on them while they’re cooking. All the juices and flavor will escape.
  3. Flip once while cooking. You’ll know when to flip because the burger will lift easily off the grill. If you try too soon, you’ll have a big mess and no burger. Then flip again at the very end just to sear the juices.

Cooking time always varies depending on how people like their burgers and the heat of your grill so you’ll have to experiment a little to get it just right. 

 
I prefer mine well which takes about 5 minutes a side, but go for less if you like yours rare.
 
Building the burger.

Be creative. I like to put out a big spread and then everyone can build their own burger with their favorite toppings. 
 
Today I assembled an avocado, mushroom burger with fresh arugula, tomatoes and red onions from the garden.

 

 

And now for the garden update…
What do you get when you cross a green house and a screened-in porch? My latest attempt at totally organic pest control…a Screen House.

 

It seems to be working. As you may recall, first I had to line all the beds with chicken wire after the gophers attacked. Then I had to put a chicken wire fence up to keep out the rabbits and squirrels. But this year was the worst battle yet…rats! There was only one solution…The Screen House!
 
Arugula
San Marzano Tomato

Thanks to Max Ramon, my gardener and screen house builder, I think I can say I’m winning the battle. But who knows…I’m sure there will be other battles to fight. It’s all worth it for the great taste of fresh veggies straight from the garden to the plate.

 
 
First artichoke of the season

 

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