Burger Season Is Here

By: Heather Ramsdell

Simply put, I love burgers. The promise of a grilled burger compels me to accept invitations to the cookouts of friends who live in distant, inconvenient locations. I check out the burgers on menus wherever I go.  My devotion springs mostly from an attraction to their basic deliciousness, but I also appreciate how much a burger says about the person who made it. They’re adaptable and agreeable, inviting anyone who wants to engage with them to dress them up. Burger season is a celebration of individual taste.

So, when the season approached, I invited food people Ian Knauer (recipe developer) and Sarah Copeland (photographer) to the kitchen. We set out to make ten great burgers. We were not searching for perfection, but instead were seeking the characteristics that make a burger something to love. We wanted to press the boundaries of what a good burger could be. In the process, we stumbled on a few tenets of burger deliciousness over and over. These helped us better understand the obsession in order to tailor it, expand it, refine it, or okay, sometimes to perfect it.

Here is what we kept talking about:
Juiciness

Burgers need to be juicy. If the patty itself is not juicy, it needs juicy friends such as pickles, slaw, or a nice amount of sauce.

Architecture

A good burger should stay together when you bite into it. Drips are good, but severe condiment slides are bad. Ignore the structure and you risk impinging on enjoyment.

Texture

Have something juicy, something crisp, something moist, something soft, and maybe something gooey. The choice of bun provides a special opportunity to offset the peculiar tendencies of your specific burger. For example hearty Texas toast is a good counterpoint to a soft crab cake, and a hefty brisket burger and soft brioche bun make a nice team.

Heather Ramsdell is a Food Person at Cooking Channel.

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