Secrets Of Perfect Burgers, Plus How To Grill An Egg

Dan Pashman's Cheeseburger With Cheese On The Bottom. i

Dan Pashman's Cheeseburger With Cheese On The Bottom. Jason Gardner /The Sporkful hide caption

itoggle caption Jason Gardner /The Sporkful
Dan Pashman's Cheeseburger With Cheese On The Bottom.

Dan Pashman's Cheeseburger With Cheese On The Bottom.

Jason Gardner /The Sporkful

Few people love talking about food more than Dan Pashman and Mark Garrison.

They're the guys behind the popular blog and podcast The Sporkful. Its motto: "It's not for foodies, it's for eaters."

"We like to appeal more to the universal audience," Pashman tells NPR's Rachel Martin. Foodies implies "a certain amount of pretension and expertise." Eaters, on the other hand, are pretty widespread. "We all eat, and we all enjoy eating."

With that in mind, we asked them to share some grill tips — including how to grill an egg — for this Memorial Day weekend.

The Perfect Burger

First things first: chuck is important. That means a meat-to-fat radio of between 80/20 and 75/25. But Pashman counters, "I'd say 82.5 is your sweet spot."

You can also visit your local butcher, Garrison says, and ask him for his favorite mix. "Just a little bit of salt, a little bit of pepper, and treat it well."

The key, they add, is to flip the burger just once on the grill — and not to press it against the grill with your spatula. "With every flip," Garrison says, "you lose juices." Those juices taste better in the burger than on your coals.

As for cheese, you can't go wrong with good, old-fashioned American. Smoked Gouda can also work well, "but nothing overpowering," Garrison says. "You want the meat to be the star — you want your cheese to be like a George Clooney: talented and good, but not someone who has to steal the show."

Condiments are a matter of taste. For any condiment, Pashman espouses the dipping method — "on a per-bite basis. That allows you to regulate the amount of condiment per bite."

That, Garrison says, is a form of burger torture.

"Every condiment should be applied to the bun before the burger," he says. "I say do not dunk until the burger enters the crescent-moon phase."

Cheeseburger With Cheese On The Bottom

I am famous for this recipe, but this is the first time I'm divulging it in print. For decades, people have wondered how I make my famous Cheeseburger with Cheese on the Bottom, which orients the cheese tongue-ward in order to maximize cheesy goodness. The secret is out. —Dan Pashman, TheSporkful.com

Ingredients

  • 1 hamburger seasoned to taste (I recommend salt, pepper, onion powder, garlic powder)
  • 1 slice cheese
  • 1 hamburger bun

Directions

Place the hamburger on the grill and cook it. When the burger is nearly cooked to your desired temperature, place the slice of cheese on top of it. At the same time, place the bun halves on the perimeter of the grill, interior sides down, where they will get lightly toasted without getting burnt. (Do not use the grill's top rack for bun toasting, that only dries out a bun without really toasting it.) Close the grill so the cheese melts on the burger. When the cheese is melted, take the bottom bun and place it on top of the burger, so the interior side of the bottom bun is laid against the cheese, and the exterior side of the bottom bun is facing skyward. Remove the top bun from the grill and place it on a plate, upside down, so the interior side is facing skyward. Use a spatula to remove the burger and place it on the top bun on the plate. Now use your hand to flip the burger over, so the cheese is facing tongue-ward. Look at what you just created. Admire it. Eat it.

Ricotta And Pesto Burger Spread

This spread is recommended as a replacement for a traditional melted cheese, because the spread is meant to touch the burger directly so that it melds with the warm burger juices. A slice of melted cheese on your burger could create a barrier to said melding. —Dan Pashman, TheSporkful.com

Ingredients

  • 4 tablespoons ricotta cheese
  • 4 teaspoons sun-dried tomato pesto
  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan

Directions

Combine ingredients in a small bowl. Let the mixture come to room temperature. When burgers are ready, spread the mixture on both sides of a lightly toasted bun. Makes enough for 4-5 burgers.

A Vegetarian Barbecue

Here are two vegetarian barbecue options that go well beyond veggie burgers and grilled vegetables. Oddly, I first tasted both on a meat-filled trip to Argentina. — Mark Garrison, TheSporkful.com

Yes, you can barbecue an egg. i

Yes, you can barbecue an egg. Jason Gardner/TheSporkful.com hide caption

itoggle caption Jason Gardner/TheSporkful.com
Yes, you can barbecue an egg.

Yes, you can barbecue an egg.

Jason Gardner/TheSporkful.com

Barbecued Eggs

Argentine engineering makes it possible to cook an egg over the coals without a mess, and you've never tasted eggs so smoky and delicious.

Ingredients

  • 1 large bell pepper, the bigger the better
  • 2 eggs
  • hot sauce, salt and black pepper to taste

Directions

You'll need the bell pepper to sit stably on the grill, or else the raw egg will spill out and make a tragic mess. Place the pepper flat on your cutting board and slice in half parallel to the board. Scrape out the seeds and placenta (yup, that's really what it's called), being careful not to pierce the outer wall.

Crack an egg into each half of the pepper. Try to distribute the egg into the whole cavity.

Place the filled pepper over the hottest part of the grill. It tastes best with the pepper's skin charred. Close the grill. If you're going to eat it with a knife and fork, cooking it to over-easy is fine. But if you're going to serve it as finger food, cook it a bit longer, so you don't have a runny yolk. It's great on its own, but better still with hot sauce, salt and a little black pepper on top.


Grilled Provolone

Ingredients

  • provolone cheese, sliced about 3/4-inch thick
  • 1 tablespoons oregano
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
  • olive oil

Directions

Let the cheese slab sit and come to room temperature. Rub a thin layer of olive oil on it. Then press in oregano on both sides, adding red pepper flakes if you want a bit of heat.

The fastest and smokiest way would be to put it directly on the grill over the coals. But if you're a minute late pulling it off, you've got a gooey mess all over your grill. Best bet is to put a layer of aluminum foil over the grill, or watch it very carefully.

Cook it until it's a hot, gooey puddle of melty, cheesy joy. No need to flip it. Serve it hot with crackers, crusty bread or all by itself.

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