Do you have…Mettle over that Kettle?
Want to grill the perfect grass fed burger on a Weber kettle grill?
It was my brother’s wedding, in Charlottesville, Virginia. Well, not the wedding really. It was a kind of rehearsal dinner/ travelers get together barbeque the day before the big event. About 100 folks were there, and the dinner menu was burgers and BBQ from a pulled pork guy who was quite legendary.
I was elected to do the burgers. You might think, well, that Glenn could totally pull this off. The problem was that I was just a dumb kid. I was around 21 or 22, and never really paid attention to how my folks pulled their grilling successes off.
They gave me a Weber grill and a bunch of burgers. It was a beautiful warm and breezy day on their Charlottesville farm. I poured on the lighter fluid (is a quart enough? Or should I use more?) on those Kingsfords and torched it.
Nice burn. Good flame. Power. (Another can?) Remember, I was a kid who watched every Apollo lift off in black and white.
I was ready to cook!!! Yes!
When the flames chilled, I threw those burgers on. I noted that lid hanging from the side (don’t miss nuthin’!). I figured that must be there to keep the grill dry when it rained. It rains in Virginia, you know.
Burger King flame broils their burgers, so that must be good. Because them burgs were flaming.
Time to turn. Flame side two, and (man it was getting hot) and maybe flip again (that wind is sure making these flames bigger) and take them off.
People really thought the pulled pork was great. My brother thinks it’s pretty hilarious that I’m now the beef guy.
Americans are supposed to be gifted on the grill. We like to believe that folks across the world jealously regard us in their minds eye with grill apron on, swimming pool in backyard, 2 kids happily playing in it, and Fido/Bowser/SweetiePie waiting patiently for a morsel, as perfectly cooked burgers are dished onto to picnic table plates.
Unfortunately, many of us just flat ruin those burgers, especially when mixing with fire and coal, and we resort to condiments like ketchup, mustard and toppings to create something edible out of hockey puck jerky.
Some 30 years have now gone by…and I have learned a few things, thankfully. Here we go; step by step on the road less traveled to the perfect burger.
1. Get good charcoal. The cheap stuff doesn’t pay. No staying power. I just get Kingsfords. Do NOT buy Matchlight. Stinky petroleum residue.
2. Do NOT buy lighter fluid. Ever cook a burg by your car’s exhaust pipe? Stinko.
3. If your grill is new, do a burn before you cook on it. Paint smell is nasty.
4. Get a chimney charcoal starter. See pic. They are cheap online, and can also be gotten at target or Ace hardware.
Come on baby light my fire.
1. Newspaper works great to start the chimney. 1 sheet is all it takes. I put it on my low charcoal bearing grate in the bottom of the Weber for wind protection.
2. Since your top burger bearing grill is off for the chimney, take this moment to clean it.
3. I make burgers while waiting for briquettes. My favorite size is a little slider where I break a pound of our ground in quarters, keeping them thick (around 1 inch to 1.25 inches), shape them into round-cornered squares and press a little dimple in the middle. Why the dimple? Because they will shrink up to fill the dimple area and cook more evenly than they would without it. See my cool burger shaping video here (or scroll down to bottom of post). It’s got other tips too!
4. Pour those briquettes in the Weber when they are white to within 2 inches of the top. Spread them out. Put the grill on.
Grill turns smoker.
1. My Burger King Flame Broiled Concept was wrong. Think even, charcoal-glowed heat with a lot of smoke. Sprinkle moistened mesquite flakes on those coals if you like more smoke.
2. Put the burgs on. I salt and sprinkle with some flaked onion at this time.
3. Close lid. Open vents on bottom. Set top vent on half.
4. Flip when grill lines and a little brown show up on the low side. This is usually when just a little bit of boil starts rising up through the top of the burg in the dimple.
5. Put lid back on.
6. Watch for fires. A water bottle that squirts or a squirt gun is a nice thing to target those burns. You should be OK with the lid on, but fattier ground beef will start a burn even with the lid on.
7. Check after about 3 minutes. Finger pressure check by gently pressing a burger with the corner of your spatula. Done is medium rare with a burger; it will finish on a covered plate to just a hair below medium. If serving right off the grill, go a little further. The finger pressure check for medium rare will feel like touching the tip of your nose; rare feels like touching your cheek; medium feels like touching your chin.
Enjoy those grass fed burgers. They should be smoky and juicy with grill lines. And they should have lines…of people coming to that grill to eat them.